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melody maker

they sounds like god weeping tears of gold in heaven, like a glacier sweeping through the harsh icelandic landscape. the whale song beamed to earth from a distant planet. their staggeringly emotional performances leave onlookers in tears or lost in dreamworlds where mogwai and the concteau twins are the grunting low watermark.. and singer jónsi has a secret known only by his close friends.

'i was born blind in one eye,'he says matter-of-factly, sitting in reykjavík's vegamót bar. 'i have never seen with two eyes. it's very good. i think if i could see in stereo, i would probably go mad.'

jónsi believes he's a medium, 'an instrument of a higher energy,' and listening to his heartbreaking falsetto as it sweeps through the cosmos, you start to believe him. he says sigur rós' music is their 'mission', that it's no coincidence they met and share 'the same beauty'.

'it would be my dream if onstage i could float into the air,' jónsi explains. i often dream i can fly. i just jump and fly. it's strange.'

kjartan, dark and intense to jónsi's slim and fragile, once had a dream where he heard 'the divine music'. he's tried to recreate that feeling ever since: he drank heavily at 14, became very religious for four years after that, meditating every day, then turned to music. i tell him sigur rós are the sound of afterlife and he nods.

'if you don't believe in the afterlife, you're very boring,' says jónsi. 'and negative. people who don't believe in an afterlife don't believe in this life. i don't know what happens, but it's good to be open about what is going to happen because it opens your mind and your life.'

we travel into the middle of iceland to take photos, marvelling at the landscape. it looks how sigur rós sound: raw, elemental, humbling.

'our music is affected by the landscape,' confirms goggi. 'look at the rocks and stones. they're alive. i always get goosebumps in the country. and i miss it. i miss the beauty and ugliness.'

sigur rós' second album, 'ágætis byrjun', fired by such rage and tenderness, has been number one in iceland for six weeks, but it won't come out here until 2000. until then, there's the 'svefn-g-englar' ep.

'i recently got a new brother,' concludes goggi, 'and our album was playing when he was born. it was just amazing.'

as are sigur rós. your life is empty without them.

(ian watson)



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