Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Jóhann Jóhannsson Redux



Mid-week concerts make for an early wake-up call.

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Icelandic composer extraordinaire, paid us in Minnesota a visit Tuesday night. In the moldering Southern Theater, an old vaudeville house in the West Bank area of Minneapolis, this sextet performed work from three of his albums, Englabörn, IBM 1401, a Users Manual, and Fordlandia, his latest. This is not music for those with an attention deficit disorder. Repeated themes with a mix of strings and electronica sounds duller than it was. Sometimes you have to suffer a bit before getting a release.

The biggest problem with this approach always seems to be getting the right balance between the electronic and the acoustic instruments. There were some difficulties , but overall it worked fairly well, despite a persistent hum (ground loop?) High point of the concert being Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device based on Heim's Quantum Theory) from Fordlandia. The crowd was enthralled and demanded an encore; Jóhann's haunting Odi et Amo. No harmonium this night, but worth it all the same...

By Professor Batty



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