Jónsi – ‘Frakkur: 2000-2004’ review

Once thought lost, this solo collection from the Sigur Ros frontman is a treasure trove for true fans, a secret history as enigmatic and beguiling as the man himself

Created under the pseudonym ‘Frakkur’, the material collected here was recorded while Sigur Ros frontman Jónsi experimented in his spare hours at home or on the road at the dawn of the century. Maybe these tracks were never meant to be heard at large, and for a long time they were even thought lost – until friends of boyfriend and sometimes musical partner Alex Somers happened across the old CD-Rs.

Well, the ghostly Icelandic vampire prince hasn’t been quietly carving out a career in EDM or trying to become the Calvin Harris of the glaciers. The closest thing you’ll get to ‘commercial’ from Jónsi is the triumphant hook-driven lushness of his immaculate 2010 solo debut ‘Go’ (which everyone should hear). What we have here is something else. Away from the band and the pressures of expectation,  Jónsi tinkered away with curious abandon, toying with chunky old laptops, newly learned software, found instruments and even, he has said, “beat-up toys”.

The records consists of 25 tracks split over three LPs, each disc divided by time. The first, ‘2000-2001’, was inspired by heartache caused by the “unrequited love for a straight boy at home in Reykjavík”. The results range from hungover soul-tronica (‘SFTLB2’), to bubbling dub-pop (‘SFTLB27’), with the collection ending in harmonious ambience (‘SFTLB9’), all via some soft and twitching James Blake-isms.

Adversely, part two (the era 2002-2003) was said to have been made in a time “filled with blinding sunlight and pure fun creative energy”. It shows, with the likes of the pulsing ‘TB3’ and ‘TB4’ taking Jónsi’s cinematic sonic language into a seldom-heard more playful realm, while ‘TB7’ lounges around the more mellow end of the Aphex Twin spectrum.

The closing of the triptych comes with 2003-2004, made after partner Alex introduced him to the programme Logic, coupled with a toy keyboard to sample his voice. These make for the more delicate and blissed-out moments of peace and space that appear to be a back road to the gossamer sounds of Sigur Ros’ 2005 breakthrough album ‘Takk’.

That’s the beauty of this trilogy. These 25 instrumentals make for curious footnotes, as well as a wonderful mood piece. This is not only a a treasure trove for true fans, but also a secret history of Jónsi; one that’s as enigmatic and beguiling as the man himself. What was once thought lost is now destined to become a cult favourite.

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