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Saturday
Apr072018

JOHANN JOHANNSSON - Englaborn + Remixes

"With future successes and greater works imminent, Jóhannsson's shocking and sudden passing at the age of 48 makes it all the more bittersweet to have Englabörn reissued as an expanded package. Originally conceived as a set of cues for a play by Hávar Sigurjónsson, Englabörn became a standalone composition. It has all the hallmarks of the film scores that followed: the knack for finding a heart-stirring theme and developing variations, the suggestion of emotional complexity in a handful of notes, being traditional in his sound while also suggesting new possibilities. The opening notes of "Odi Et Amo" still bear a great sadness, a feeling that transfers to the plinking chimes and electronics of "Bað." "Ég Sleppi Þér Aldrei" still feels like a chasmic grief that's at once vertiginous and aching. The mix of tocking percussion, chiming glockenspiel and strings on "Sálfræðingur" is somehow propulsive and pensive at once. 

The remixes show Jóhannsson's influence on his contemporaries. Fellow Icelander and one-time Touch labelmate Hildur Guðnadóttir uses her cello and electronics to find the latent growl in "Sálfræðingur Deyr." As A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran take the brief "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" and scale it into something majestic. Theatre Of Voices deliver two notable reworks. They turn "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" into a chorale, and their version of "Odi Et Amo" gives Englabörn & Variations a heartbreaking finale. Having had "Solari" reimagined by Jóhannsson for his recent Async - Remodels LP, Ryuichi Sakamoto returns the favor on the exquisite "Jói & Karen." Himself a master at creating hybrids of classical composition and electronic ambience, Sakamoto quickly gets to the emotional kernel of the piece while also taking it into deep space. Englabörn & Variations won't be the last reissue of the composer's work, but Jóhannsson clearly had more to give. (In fact, he had been working on this package with Deutsche Grammophon shortly before his death.) What remains is a profound body of work that will continue to resonate." - Resident Advisor

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