From Iceland — Jónsi Releases First New Single In A Decade

Jónsi Releases First New Single In A Decade

Published April 23, 2020

Sam O'Donnell
Photo by
Barnaby Roper

Jónsi has released a new single for the first time in a decade. The lead singer of the band Sigur Rós issued a press release with the single, ‘Exhale,’ which can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and other services.

According to the press release, while the single is the first solo work Jónsi has produced in ten years, it was co-produced by the singer and A.G. Cook. Jónsi has built his musical career on music that feels enormous, plumbing the depths of human experience. He explored the vast landscape of Iceland with his band, Sigur Rós, transmuting the rugged terrain into pure, organic music that at once feels both timeless and untouched by the modern world.

On the other hand, A.G. Cook has built his career on the opposite end of the spectrum. His productions all feel incredibly modern, synthetic, and often abrasive. He walks the edge of experimentalism, pushing the envelope of what music can be.

On the surface, the collaboration seems like an ill advised foray into something strange, but ‘Exhale’ is a beautiful track that utilises Jónsi’s voice and A.G. Cook’s experimental style in a novel, interesting, and haunting way.

The song begins softly, featuring Jónsi’s voice over a somber piano. Soon after it begins, a cloud of glitchy synths enters the mix. He repeats “just let it go now/this is the way it is/it isn’t your fault,” which feels like a mantra suitable for these strange, tumultuous times. These words are especially moving, considering Jónsi himself survived COVID-19.

The video features accompanying visuals depicting a dancer emerging from a black polyethylene tarp, which resembles a garbage bag at first. As the song crescendos, and more instruments enter the fray along with a muffled beat, the dancer moves more fluidly, more confidently, tossing pieces of fabric into the air where they float “like leaves in the wind,” and the dancer’s tarp no longer resembles a garbage bag, but a sleek outfit suitable for any runway show. It is a truly beautiful work of art.

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