Iceland's Jon Thor Birgisson (the ethereal-voiced lead singer and frontman of Sigur Rós) and his boyfriend Alex Somers (a member of the band Parachutes and the designer of much of the graphic contact for Sigur Rós' albums) create gently atmospheric work in a variety of media, encompassing ambient and instrumental music, visual art, and video work. The pair began collaborating in 2003, taking the name Riceboy Sleeps as a catch-all moniker for their work together -- the phrase was the title of a song Birgisson wrote when he first met Somers, who at the time was destitute, subsisting mainly on rice, and spending much of his time sleeping. At least initially, they approached their creations primarily as a private undertaking intended for their own pleasure and fulfillment, exploring a shared aesthetic of natural beauty and simplicity focused around organic, hand-made, and found materials, distressed and textured by age and wear. Their first publicly available project was an art book, Riceboy Sleeps -- released in a limited Iceland-only edition in 2006, and reissued internationally the following year -- which contained 52 wordless pages of found and hand-made images. 2007 also found the pair presenting their first gallery exhibitions outside of Iceland (in Arkansas and Melbourne), and releasing two pieces of music, "All the Big Trees" and "Daníell in the Sea," both with accompanying videos. After a half-decade of working on their music intermittently and haphazardly, Birgisson and Somers decided to get serious about shaping it into a finished product, and spent February of 2009 mixing the songs for their debut album -- one of which, "Happiness," appeared in unfinished form on the Red Hot Organization's compilation Dark Was the Night, around this time -- while staying at a remote solar-powered raw-food commune in Hawaii. The album, which was recorded in Iceland entirely on acoustic instruments, and featured contributions from the string quartet Amiina (longtime Sigur Rós collaborators) and the Kópavogsdaetur Choir, was released in July 2009, though by that time, Riceboy Sleeps was simply the title of the album, the duo having changed their name to Jónsi & Alex. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi