Album Review

Johannsson, Johann – “Englaborn ” – [Touch]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

I checked this out as I had heard Johannsson helped found the
outstanding Kitchen Motors label (he’s also in the Apparat
Organ Quartet which has released music on that label). This
is music from a play of the same name. Several bittersweet
themes are worked in and out of the tracks…including the
opening sung by a (heart?)shattered robot. There’s an overall
feeling of sun breaking through clouds ray by ray, slow notes,
pauses between phrases, little high-octave piano melodies
that drop so tiny. Like tears. The chamber quartet give this
a conventional feel, but the composition has an undeniable
beauty. An Icelandic vibe still chills the air through,
notably on “Karen byr til engil” and “…eins og venjuleft
folk” and other moments. “Salfraedingur” takes one of the
now-familiar themes and pours it over a rapid refrigerator
rhythm. The entire recording really begs to be listened to
all the way through, though the leading number with the robo-
latin intonation is so drop-dread gorgeous it overshadows
the rest of the album, which has its own stately sorta
Gavin Bryars sweep. In HAL tradition, the computerized vox
return at the end, slowed waaaay down though not singing
“Daisy” but instead the “Odi et Amo”

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