I discovered Sigur Rós in 2001, right as they were starting to make big waves across the Atlantic. Like countless other 20-somethings, I swooned to "Svefn-g-englar" in my candlelit bachelor apartment. I saw them perform in DC that year, and after the show I stuck around to bug them. I remember talking to Orri as he smoked and looked around as if he couldn't wait to finish talking with me and get on with the rest of his evening. As I was leaving the venue I spotted Kjartan and called out "Thanks for the show!" "No problem," he replied.
Afterwards I felt foolish. I already knew about fame and how it puts sensible musicians on their guard (I listen to Rush, for heaven's sake). Watching the interview sections in Heima I was reminded of that. When people make music that reaches a large audience, their music comes to mean many things for all those different people, and that means there has to be a boundary set up, to prevent the listeners from imposing their projections on their fellow human beings who make the music, who have their own separate lives.
I recognize this, and despite my seven-year-old daughter's wish to fly to Iceland and visit Jónsi (yes, she's a fan too, like many children, as I understand) I know that most likely I'll never be in the same room with those guys again and that I have no right to expect that just because I like their music they'd want to be my friends.
But in my own personal take on their music, and my own interaction with the copy of the version of their persona that reaches me, Sigur Rós is my band in a way that few others are. For one thing, those guys are my age (I'm not quite two months older than Orri). Right now the only other band I can think of that I listen to, with members my age, is Aloha. Since I discovered them I've followed them through the phases of the twenties and thirties, and I've had moments of deep empathetic resonance (which again I recognize can only go so far). For example, when I saw a clip of their second film Inni, especially with Orri wearing that crown of his. I can't quite explain, but something in that sight struck me with a deep familiarity. What was it? I don't know if I can explain.
Maybe it was a simple recognition of the impulse to dress up when playing the drums. I have done my share of theatrical self-presentation as a drummer:
And as I wrote not too long ago, I have been feeling this desire for more personal adornment lately. I wonder how much of it comes from my approaching middle age. I've been wearing jeans and t-shirts for over 20 years, and as I see more grey hairs in the mirror, not only do I feel a wish to present myself to the world with a dignity and a distinction, but I still have enough of my youthful idealism and turn-of-the-century experience that I want my distinction and dignity to be something more universal, more human, more psychologically whole than the dominant image of the businessman of the 20th century industrialized world.
|Sporting my rainforest jasper pendant, brass cuff and a homemade bead bracelet.|
It helps to sweep away even more of the hero-worship that held sway over me in my youth.
I'm going to write in later posts about some of the things their music means to me. After all, they have encouraged this, with the wordless liner notes and title-less tracks of their third album, and their experimental video projects. So this is the introduction and there will be more to come in this series.