Jóhann Jóhannsson / 19 September 1969 – 9 February 2018

My friends at FatCat turned me on to the music of Icelandic composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson. At the start of the 21st Century, they were working with Jóhannsson`s countrymen, Sigur Ros, and came into contact with the Kitchen Motors collective. Of which Jóhannsson was a founding member. Their recommendation resulted in me buying both Englaborn`s short pieces for theatre, and the epics on Virðulegu Forsetar. Jóhannsson later recorded more epics, in the form of The Miner`s Hymns, for FatCat offshoot, 130701. Employing strings, drones and resonance, subtle electronics, his compositions often play like requiems. Songs of loss. Odes to vanishing love, livelihood, community, innocence and sanity. Yet in amongst the sadness, sixty-piece orchestras, choirs and massed brass bands combine to convey the strength, and honour, that exists in unity.

Jóhannsson was a contemporary of Hauschka and Max Richter. His career trajectory mirroring that of fellow ex-Indie-Rocker, Clint Mansell. Becoming best known for his cinema scores. Notably, the award-winning soundtracks he produced for James Marsh and Denis Villeneuve. It`s all the more tragic that we should lose him at a point when his music and name had begun to reach a much wider audience.

For me, his work for Villeneuve`s Arrival is of particular genius. Directly addressing the film`s central themes. Composing for processed voices. Creating a new language.

Heptapod B

A Song For Europa

An Injury To One Is The Concern Of All

Virðulegu Forsetar

Alejandro’s Song

IBM 729 II Magnetic Tape Unit

The Mercy


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