Amoeblog

I REMEMBER JOHANN JOHANNSSON

Posted by Rick Frystak, July 2, 2019 07:56pm | Post a Comment
 
 
Johann Jóhannsson passed away last year in February, of a street drug overdose mixed with other medication he was taking, at the way-way-too-young age of 48 years old, a HUGE, huge loss to many fans of progressive music, film scores and progressive performance. Many of my friends saw his last show at the Walt Disney Hall here in L.A., and it was phenomenal. He would start each piece by rising from the keyboard / midi rig he was using and putting up a 15’’ reel of audiotape onto a Revox analog tape recorder and begin the piece with a repetitive loop or musical chunk, which would be softly, slowly and gradually picked up on by his traveling chamber ensemble and himself on piano, synths and samples, and fleshed out into a blooming, flourishing journey of sound. Simply spellbinding. And the visual elements, besides the exotic candelabras, would be a black and white film with blotted images, increasing the brooding, dark atmospherics.

Brooding and dark usually describe his sound, his direction favoring minor chords and modes. But then, he’ll go and write the Theory of Everything, with lots of lilting, rosy cues because that’s what the story demanded. But to me, he excelled in the glum, ominous moods that begat his reputation and manifested the darkened concert hall, with the black balloons and smudged visuals. In many ways his music reminds me of a correlation with composers such as Arvo Part or John Tavener, in mixing the sound of music from the middle ages with contemporary minimalism or ‘avant garde’ sounds; whatever the project demanded or his own inspiration dictated won over. The reason is inexplicable to me.
 
His film scores such as Prisoners, The Mercy, Mary Magdalene (shared credit with Hildur Gunadóttir), Arrival, Sicario, Mandy, A User’s Manual and others show Johannsson’s versatility, variety and inspiration, with the use of electronics mixed with symphonic and pop music elements, and his collaborations with closely held associates like Icelandic cellist Hildur Gunadóttir, who may continue on the path Johann was mining. In Arrival, he used pure electronic effects as part of the melodies in some of the cues; very effectively. Hildur's score to the HBO series Chernobyl (download only) is fascinating, a logical extension of Johannsson’s sound, with the horror of what's happened manifested by pure unfettered ambience. Twice nominated for Academy Awards, he hit it and won a Golden Globe award (foreign press) for his score to Theory of Everything, a great film detailing the early life of Stephen Hawking, no less great due to Johann’s work.

His newest solo project of his own music, Orphee, came shortly before his passing, and marked his signing with the legendary Deutsche Grammophon record label. It could be the best example of the variety of sounds that this man wanted to express to his audience. Many hum-able melodies fuse with textural elements to get at what Johannsson’s statements are in his musical expressions.

After Orphee’s release, things immediately started to happen. Almost simultaneously, his new label released a 2-LP, or 2-CD set ‘reimagining’ an older project Englabörn & Variations, in which Johann collaborated with the remixers in recomposing each piece and therefore, really, making an entirely new album, possibly one of his best. His new label has thus put together a 7-CD box set, a monumental, 100-dollar package with some new photos and I-don’t-know-what-else according to Deutsche Grammophon’s horrible website. In September of this year, DGG will release a string quartet, and another box set with unreleased tracks is being readied.

Johann’s music is many things to many people. His own solo records, such as Fordlandia, Orphee, Englabörn and Virðulegu Forsetar take the listener directly into the mindset of the soundtrack composer, yet maintain his own individual sound that brings you back to his soundtrack art. There are quite a few works by Johann that are out of print as well, (or nearly), already. Check those out too!

RECOMMENDED LISTENING BY Johann Johannsson:
Orphee (solo)
The Mercy (soundtrack)
Arrival (soundtrack)
Prisoners (soundtrack)
Miner’s Hymns (solo/soundtrack)
Englabörn & Variations (solo)
Theory Of Everything (soundtrack)
Mandy (soundtrack)
Retrospective Box Set (solo/soundtrack)
End Of Summer (soundtrack, w/DVD)

This Year's Oscar-Nominated Soundtracks

Posted by Amoebite, February 13, 2017 03:07pm | Post a Comment

Oscar Nominated Soundtracks

On February 26th, the Oscars will take over Hollywood -- not to mention the TV screens of cinephiles around the globe. This year there's a bumper crop of exquisite soundtracks and enjoyable tunes to discover, so we're shining a spotlight (get it?) on what sets our hearts aflutter about the nominees in both the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories.

Jackie

Mica Levi - Jackie OST

The immensely-talented Mica Levi first got on our radar via her Micachu & the Shapes project, but her work as a film composer is equally vital. Her first foray into scores was 2014's highly-acclaimed work on Under the Skin.

La La Land

Justin HurwitzLa La Land OST

2017 Oscar Nomination Predictions by Brad & Jackie

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 22, 2017 04:17pm | Post a Comment
We are once again deep into Oscar season. The Oscar nominations come out on Tuesday, January 24th. Jackie and I tend to obsess about these awards all year long. But the time has come to put down our final predictions for the Oscar nominations. I do my best to see all these films every year in the theater. I have seen all the films I am predicting for best picture except for Fences and Silence. My favorite film of the year was 20th Century Women. I will be so happy if it gets nominated for anything on Tuesday. But the only thing I am really predicting it for is best screenplay. Another personal favorite of mine is Nocturnal Animals. I am hoping it gets a couple of nominations like it did at the Globes and BAFTAs. But Tom Ford's last film A Single Man only got one nomination for Colin Firth. Everyone seems to be predicting La La Land to win best picture and take home the most awards of the night. But I will be hoping that the film is divisive enough to help Moonlight win best picture and best director. The Oscars are on February 26th and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. There really is no way that we will have another #oscarssowhite year. Films like Moonlight, Hidden Figures and Fences are just too good and acclaimed to be ignored. Below you will find our predictions for the bigger categories. We each listed one alternate for each category. Best Picture could be 5-10 nominees. I am predicting there will only be 8 this year.


Best Picture

brad jackie
Moonlight La La Land
La La Land Manchester By The Sea
Manchester By The Sea Moonlight
Arrival Lion
Lion  Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water Hell Or High Water
Nocturnal Animals Fences
Silence Captain Fantastic

alternate/