I knew about this band from my HMV years when their 1999 album Ágætis Byrjun came out as an import (it would get an American release a few months later). They were like an apocalyptic version of Cocteau Twins — both bands creating otherworldly music with curious and indecipherable lyrics, but while the Twins veered towards beauty, this band chose fragility instead. Their songs were always on the verge of not so much breaking apart as disintegrating before our eyes and ears.
In 2002 they released an album of eight untitled tracks simply entitled ( ) and sung entirely in lead singer Jonsi’s ‘Hopelandic’ conlang. I remember hearing an NPR review of it just before it came out, with the reviewer being utterly blown away by it. I picked it up pretty much on the drop date (one of my Newbury Comics runs after work, natch), and gave it a spin in the Belfry. It would end up getting some serious play during my writing sessions that year and into the next while I wrote The Persistence of Memories.
The band released a remastered version late last year and it sounds just as lovely as it did then, if not better. The album still feels just as fragile and cold, but that just adds to its beauty; this is an album of delicate sounds and moods that calls for contemplation and meditation.