Friday, October 10, 2008

Jóhann Jóhannsson

I first heard Jóhann's music after reading about Englabörn on a blog last year. It was nice, but didn't really capture my attention. I haven't revisited it, but did take a chance on IBM 1401, A User's Manual when I saw it in a Naperville, Illinois library. The first track, "Part 1/IBM 1401 Processing Unit" is breathtaking. I had to stop everything else and listen, so arresting was that track. And it still is. An antediluvian IBM mainframe computer provides a simple, six note ostinato (as well as a conceptual framework) that plays incessantly throughout, soon joined by an enormous string orchestra. Melancholic tension steadily builds for six minutes until the climax is reached. It's an overwhelming passage; when I hear it, I'm still confused with what exactly it is that I'm feeling. that's the power of great music, great art, I guess. I would embed the track, but can't find it anywhere. Seek it out, it's well worth it.

Anyway, Jóhannsson's new album, Fordlandia, is out this month on 4AD, and it is, in my opinion, far greater holistically than its predecessor. You can get lead "single" "The Rocket Builder" here.  Like a lot of the man's music, the piece is stunning.

I hate to rhapsodize about another modern Icelandic musician (I haven't here yet...), but they have exported some amazing material in the past few years. 

No comments: