NPR logo First Listen: Jonsi, 'Go'

First Listen: Jonsi, 'Go'

Audio for this feature is no longer available. The album was released on Apr. 6, 2010.

Lilja Birgisdóttir
Lilja Birgisdóttir

Jonsi is the nickname of Jon Thor Birgisson, the enigmatic Sigur Ros singer. In Sigur Ros, his music is ethereal, sprawling and mysterious — it's even sung in a language of his own devising. But Jonsi also writes songs that can be upbeat, even celebratory, and often sung in English. His new solo album, Go, is where he's found a home for that music, and it's a brilliant and creative assortment of songs.

Recorded in Jonsi's studio in Iceland and in Connecticut, Go features wonderful arrangements of strings, brass and woodwinds, recorded with the help of Nico Muhly. Muhly has worked with Bjork, Philip Glass and even Bonnie "Prince" Billy; listen to "Tornado" and you'll get a good idea of the exhilaration Muhly helps bring to these songs. You can hear Go in its entirety here until its release on April 6.

Birgisson grew up in Iceland, raised by parents who weren't particularly musical; his early memories include playing The Beatles at double speed on his turntable and listening to and playing along with Iron Maiden records. You can hear him speak at length about his musical past and loves in an upcoming episode of All Songs Considered, in which Birgisson plays guest DJ. His history as Sigur Ros' singer and guitarist spans 16 years, during which time the band has released five studio albums and created a sound that's dramatic, euphoric, thoughtful, spacious and unforgettable.

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