Sigur Rós (Sigur ros.ogg [ˈsɪːɣʏr rouːs] (help·info)) is an Icelandic post-rock band with melodic, classical, and minimalist elements. The band is known for its ethereal sound and lead singer Jónsi Birgisson's falsetto voice.
Jón Þór (Jónsi) Birgisson (guitar and vocals), Georg Hólm (bass) and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson (drums) formed the group in Reykjavík in August 1994. Their name is Icelandic wordplay: While the individual words Sigur and Rós mean, respectively, Victory and Rose, "Victory Rose" wouldn't be grammatically correct. The name is thus taken from Jónsi's younger sister Sigurrós, who was born the same day as the band was formed, and then split into two words. They soon won a record deal with the local Sugarcubes-owned record label, Bad Taste. In 1997, they released Von (pronounced [vɔːn], meaning "hope") and in 1998 a remix collection named Von brigði (IPA: [vɔːn ˈprɪɣðɪ]). The name is Icelandic wordplay: Vonbrigði means "disappointment", but Von brigði means "variations on Von". The band was joined by Kjartan Sveinsson on keyboards in 1998. He is the only member of Sigur Rós with musical training, and therefore has contributed most of the orchestral and string arrangements for their later work.
Named in part after a sister of one of the bandmembers, Reykjavik, Iceland's Sigur Rós (Victory Rose) was formed by guitarist and vocalist Jon Thor Birgisson, bassist Georg Holm, and drummer Agust. Formed in early 1994 while the members were teenagers, the trio's first recorded song earned them a deal with Iceland's Bad Taste label. Their sprawling debut LP, Von (Hope), was released in 1997, followed the next year by a collection of remixes from that album, Recycle Bin. Kjartan Sveinsson joined the band on keyboards and the band recorded 1999's strings-heavy Ágætis Byrjun (Good Start), earning themselves numerous accolades in their homeland and achieving platinum status in sales. Agust then departed and was quickly replaced by Orri Páll DýRason.
Svefn-G-Englar, their first release to be distributed outside of their native country, was hailed as NME's Single of the Week during September of 1999, launching a press hype steamroller in the U.K. and -- to a lesser extent -- in the U.S. The "Ný Battery" single was issued in early 2000, the band's breakout year. British independent Fat Cat began distributing the band, stretching their reach beyond Icelanders and rabid journalists. April dates in England with Godspeed You! Black Emperor were capped off by an appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, and they also opened several dates of Radiohead's European tour before year's end.