Sunday, April 16, 2017
Jóhann Jóhannsson with American Contemporary Music Ensemble West Coast Tour: Apr 17 - Apr 20 | Reykjavík Festival at The Los Angeles Philharmonic: Apr 1 - Jun 4
This month the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Reykjavík Festival initiates Jóhann Jóhannsson's return to the west coast with a series of dates alongside the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. Following on his appearance in the two month festival dedicated to the contemporary sounds of Iceland the electro-acoustic composer and chamber symphony will have two nights at the Regency Ballroom and Seattle's Benaroya Hall. This will be the first return of the Icelandic composer since his notable Decibel Festival hosted performance of 2010 at the Triple Door, wherein he performed selections from his "In the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees". As a student of formal music training from age eleven, Jóhann Jóhannsson studied piano and trombone in his native Reykjavík. He abandoned traditional musical training while at high school, frustrated by the constraints imposed on music as an academic subject. Pursuing literature and language at the university, he spent a decade exploring nontraditional music writing with fledgling underground rock bands. These took the form of composed feedback-drenched pieces for electric guitar and ambient layered soundscapes. The years of exploration led to working with digital processing and the manipulation of the resonances of acoustic and electric instruments into striking electronic sound fields. His first recordings to be born of this process appeared on John Wozencroft's influential Touch label in 2002 with the release of "Englabörn". This was soon followed by the critically hailed "Virðulegu Forsetar" scored for brass ensemble, massed electronic drone and percussion in 2004.
The content of these first recordings reveal influences spanning such diverse points of origin as Henry Purcell, the "ambient furnishings" of Erik Satie, Bernard Herrmann's charged cinematic scores, Iannis Xenakis' visceral tape and computer music and the New York outsider artist Moondog. Folded into their form was an electronic vocabulary that equally referenced the early explorations of IRCAM, as well as the millennial digital music issued at the time by labels such as Mille Plateaux and Mego. Orchestral and soundtrack albums were to follow, including a 2010 collaboration with American experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison on "The Miner's Hymns". This lyrical and reflective response to Britain’s lost industrial past, and it's accompanying soundtrack, was conceived as a live audiovisual event which saw both UK and New York performances. Scores for cinema, film and theater continue to occupy a larger part of the composer's recent body of work. Particularly the string of award winning collaborations soundtracking the work of French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. The most recent of these released through the historic Deutsche Grammofon label. Including 2016's "Orphée" and Jóhannsson's lending of further sensory tangibility to the dazzling science fiction relativistic, linguistic mystery of "Arrival". Collider's interview on the film and his forthcoming collaboration with the director while "Preparing to Score ‘Blade Runner 2049'" detail his work utilizing the exquisite intonations of Theater of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier. Beyond the soundtrack, the commodious auditory environment of it's two hour duration also featuring excerpts from Max Richter's 2004 electro-acoustic album, "The Blue Notebooks", alongside the exceptional audio design work of film's sound department under Claude La Haye and Bernard Gariépy Strobl. The Quietus discusses "A Kind Of Visceral Quality: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Favourite Records", which like the score, epitomize a philosophy of minimal gestures with maximum impact, illustrated further in interview for FACT Mag's, "Jóhann Jóhannsson on 'Orphée' and His Biggest Challenge Yet".