I love Johann Johannsson. The 40 year old Icelandic, yes that’s right Icelandic (every talented musician comes from that tiny country it seems), composer is just something special in the world of modern classical music. I first stumbled upon his work with his quite fascinating ‘ibm 1401, a user’s manual’. His father was a maintenance engineer working with these computers, one of the first to be shipped to Iceland, and developed a way to make the computers create music, something the computer was not designed to do. The classical album that Johannsson created, based on this interaction between man and machine, is great.
This record is completely different in the sense that the bleeps, clicks and technological noises created by the computer are nowhere to be heard. Instead, we have a classical album filled with some gorgeous pieces. At one point my wife commented that it sounds like the music on Assassin’s Creed when you’re sneaking around Jerusalem getting ready to kill another soldier or climb another tower. I can hear that for sure as there are moments of real darkness on this record. However, after every moment of darkness comes a moment of beauty so pure you can almost feel the darkness clear. The shadows removed by the morning sun.
‘Theme’ is the absolutely perfect start to this record. Gorgeous and uplifting subtle piano is lifted beautifully with lush strings. As you would expect the album is filled with gorgeous piano and string accompaniments. However, there is wonderful use of choirs as well. Choirs are not something I would usually have a strong bond with in music if I’m perfectly honest, but the subtle use on this record is just sublime and adds wonderfully to the ambiance and atmosphere as it floats above the strings adding beauty and aggression, where appropriate.
It’s interesting how modern classical composers differ so subtley from one another. The emphasis on this record is without doubt the strings. The other instruments flutter in and out and add wonderfully to the arrangements, but it’s the strings that are the stars on this record for sure. At times lush, at times dark and brooding. Always wonderful. This has been the perfect Sunday listening material. Yesterday was a long, long day. So to be able to lie on the bed now and just immerse myself in such beauty is the perfect end to the weekend. Buy this record. You can check out Johann Johannsson here. He is due to tour the UK in 2010 so keep an eye out for shows. Until then. Enjoy.