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On Common Grace and Icelandic Post-Rock


The Nothing Song
Originally uploaded by ahansen54.
(To understand better, play this song while reading this post. Or, better yet, download this song (it's legal!), listen to it with headphones, and then read this post.)

Lately I've been thinking about why the music of Sigur Ros moves me so much. Perhaps it's on my mind because I've been listening to them more lately than usual. Or perhaps because I just purchased tickets to their concert in a month.

Whatever the reason for my musings, I've decided that their music is particularly evocative for me because I instinctively attach their music to the most beautiful landscapes I've experienced. Part of this happens naturally for me, as I think their music conveys a majesty that is completely absent from most modern "rock" music. Part of it, though, is conditioning. Several times I've sat down on the summit of a peak and pulled out my iPod (yes, I know...not very "natural," etc.) and put on the music of Sigur Ros to help me aurally process the spectacular views I'm seeing. I've found that their "()" album for whatever reason (the slow pacing of the songs, the shimmering tone and long delay of the guitars) fits an untouched winter landscape mountain landscape perfectly.

One such experience was the hike out of Medicine Bow range last spring break. It was a morning in late March and the sun was just beginning to burn off the clouds and break through the trees. It had snowed the night before so we hiked out through about a foot of fresh, trackless powder. I lingered toward the back of our line, taking pictures (including the one above), listening to Sigur Ros, and basically just trying to absorb as much of the experience as humanly possible. Now when I think of pure beauty, pure joy, pure contentment, those are some of the images that immediately come to mind, and Sigur Ros' "Njosnavelin" (the linked track above and the masterpiece at the center of "()") is the soundtrack to them. It's quite possibly one of the most vivid foretastes I've had of the intense beauty of the restored creation in the new heavens and new earth, when God's own beauty and majesty will be reflected in perfect creation.

Perhaps I'm placing more weight on some Icelandic ambient music than it's meant to bear. However, it serves as a reminder to me that through common grace, God can use a band who gives little (if any) thought to God in the production of their music to powerfully communicate God's beauty to me, simply because we all experience it.

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