Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sleepy time tracks

Yesterday we had a Popol Vuh track and today we have some tracks from Johan Johannsson. Is it winter already? I'm doing this because we all need some jams to fall asleep to at night, right? These are ones you can throw on to pass out to.

If you know of Johann Johannsson you probably know him for being that modern composer from Iceland. You would be correct but I fear that the term 'modern composer' will scare people away so lets forget that term. Does he track in mostly long compositional pieces? Yes. Does he use electronic instruments? Yes. Does he come from a far away land I don't know anything about? You betcha, but none of that means this stuff needs to scare you.

Take this tune, "Fordlandia", a 10 minute composition built from strings and electronic waves. This is the stuff of late, late car rides through the country. Building slowly on top of its self, these are the types of songs that force listeners to pay attention to every layer. Details come to light only multiple listens, and that is OK, that is part of the fun.

The moving part of the track is around the middle third when these booming strings come swooping in, sucking all the air out of the room only to leave a sense reflection. There are multiple peaks and valleys within this song. String sections build to crescendos that topple down on each other only to build back up again.

Horns! So many french horns!

"The Cause" is another track that combines traditional instruments with electronic instruments to create a sound that is amazingly organic considering the parts. This is the last track to a soundtrack that Johannsson wrote for a documentary about British coal miners in the 1950's. Think thick gray, dark skies, huge pieces of industry exhaling black smoke, and men walking into coal mines kissing their lamps. This song is a solemn requiem for those workers or a triumphant exclamation honoring them; I can't decide which.

Another track of Johannsson's that builds and builds on top of its self. This time it is waves of french horns repeating half menacing, half glorious phrases accompanied by some marching like percussion. Ending with a lone organ slowly fading away "The Cause" is Johansson's effort to honor a long ago era of work that gave a sense of pride to many.

Damn, two days in a row. I promise, the hits come back tomorrow for the weekend.

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