When Sigur Rós frontman Jón Thor Birgisson embarked on putting together Go his first solo album, he envisioned a record that would provide a home for some of the songs he’d written over the years that were never quite right for the band. Jónsi originally imagined it would be a quiet, acoustic album. But the final collection of songs is anything but. When you hear the introductory notes on the lead-off track, “Go Do,” the energy and playfulness of the music explodes in sharp contrast to the darker, ruminating sound of Sigur Rós.
Much of the way the record evolved has to do with Jónsi’s choice of free-spirited collaborators. All the album’s arrangements are by Nico Muhly, the Philip Glass protégé known for his work with Bjork, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Antony & the Johnsons and Grizzly Bear. Another wild card in the creation of Go is the off-kilter and unexpected percussive style of Finnish drummer Samuli Kosminen.
“I’ve never been so stressed, unsure and worried in my life,” says Jónsi. “In Sigur Rós you are in four-person cocoon, a safe environment with people to bounce ideas off. But now I suddenly have to know what’s best totally on my own, and that’s been a new and very interesting experience for me. Fear is a big beast. It’s powerful stuff and you have to tame it and overcome it.”
Indeed, if there is a lyrical theme to Go (around 3/4 of which is in English, by the way), it is about not allowing fear any place in your life. It’s a surprisingly celebratory record. Jónsi’s trademark vocals still drive the compositions, creating a familiar cinematic feel, but new themes bubble up throughout the music as he boldly jumps into unfamiliar territory.
Jónsi will perform live on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Monday, April 19, 2010.
GO will be available on-demand March 29 through April 11, 2010.
The album will be released on Tuesday, April 6.
Official artist website: jonsi.com
1. Go Do
2. Animal Arithmetic
4. Boy Lilikoi
5. Sinking Friendships
7. Around Us
8. Grow Till Tall