Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Music... On an Icelandic tip

Strengir Hrynja by ((Traject)) is the kind of atmospheric ambient electronica that I lap up just now. Dark, forceful, malevolent, creepy... and yet delicate, intricate and soothing... Its hard to fully define the soundsculpture that Traject has created here... but it is fair to say it reminds me of Sigur Ros in feeling and movement... it must be an Icelandic thing. It is challenging... to the point where I think this is the true heir of fusion... but is ultimately rewarding.

Englabörn by ((Jóhann Jóhannsson)) is a piece of beauty... with its electronically modified vocals and luscious sweeping string arrangements. This is music that captures your heart with a bittersweet melancholy and holds it to ransom with the gentle sound of a piano. Here is a snippet of what is said of the work ::
Englaborn is Jóhann's first solo album. It is derived from music he wrote for an Icelandic play of the same name. For the cd release on Touch, the music was revised and restructured to make it stand as a work on its own and not simply function as a collection of cues. The music is written for string quartet, piano, organ, glockenspiel and percussion. These elements were processed and manipulated, adding delicate electronic backgrounds to the otherwise entirely acoustic recordings. One song, "Odi et Amo", is a setting of Catullus's famous poem. He says "This was a happy accident; I'd written the music and wanted a computerized counter-tenor vocal singing a Latin text and was looking through a collection of Latin poetry when I remembered this poem from college and it did fit the melody perfectly and was also thematically perfect for the play. It’s in the final scene. What I really like about it is the harsh contrast of the computer voice and the strings, the alchemy of total opposites, the sewing machine and umbrella on a dissecting table”.
It is truly a wonderful piece of music... no wonder he is / was a featured artist on Classic FM. I would be safe in saying he is on a par with Craig Armstrong. Well worth checking out.

My gratitude extends, once again, to the Soos for letting me hear these two albums.

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