Sep 15, 2010 Uncategorized
Posted by irfon
I came across a thread recently asking what our favourite albums released in 2010 have been. It made me realize that while I’ve purchased several albums in 2010, only two were actually released in 2010 — Autechre’s “Oversteps,” and Jónsi’s “Go”.
I don’t feel like I can really speak to the Autechre release, because I haven’t taken the time yet to really sit with it and give it the attention it needs. It’s not an immediately accessible album. That’s okay with me, but lately I haven’t had much time to just sit with music in a respectful and attentive way, so I’ve been mostly avoiding it until I have the time to do that.
That leaves only the Jónsi release, really. I’ve actually listened to it quite a lot. I had tickets to see his much-lauded tour, but the date was cancelled last minute due to a problem with the venue and the sets used on the tour. I have to admit that I felt really angry about that; It was my feeling that if you and the venue make a mistake about the elaborate sets that might deny the people who pre-ordered tickets to your tour and have been waiting excitedly the opportunity to see you perform, you really should try your best to work with what you have, perhaps doing a simpler show without the elaborate sets. So I didn’t necessarily approach the album on fair terms for some time after that incident.
Having had time to mostly cool off from that, though, I think that Go is really a remarkable accomplishment. Sigur Rós have always been one of my favourite bands, but mostly because of their ability to capture the rich poignancy of beautiful melancholy. This carried forward pretty much until their last couple of albums, I think, the penultimate venturing into a lot of energetic sense of wonder territory, and the last having the first track of theirs that I think was just unmitigated happiness — the foot-tappingly catchy Gobbledigook.
What Jónsi seems to have done on Go, for the most part (there are a few exceptions) is to distill out that pure positive energy and optimism and present it undiluted, but somehow make it feel every bit as gorgeous and textured and filigreed as Sigur Rós did with darker hues. I really think that that’s hard to do. I mean, I think that we have a predisposition to thinking that great art must be dark or sorrowful. The idea that artists must suffer to produce great work informs this in part, and many people complain that artists lose their edge when they become successful enough to lose the “starving” designation.
Jónsi somehow manages to show not only that great art can be joyful and celebratory but that it’s possible to create things that sparkle with happiness without ever crossing the line into saccharine territory. It’s easy to find true beauty here, but it’s also next to impossible to not smile widely.
I think that these days it’s so easy to get caught up on turmoil and stress and worry that someone who reminds us what it’s like to just smile is truly making great and worthwhile art.
If you’ve not had the chance to check the album out, here are a couple of good example tracks on YouTube: