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)

The 20 Best Selling Soundtracks of 2018

Posted by Amoebite, December 18, 2018 03:56pm | Post a Comment

top 20 soundtracks of 2018

There were lots of soundtrack releases to choose from this year, with many limited edition color vinyl versions creating excitement and selling out extremely fast. Two members of Radiohead make appearances on this list, and we also have two soundtracks for the same film franchise -- the original film and its later update. Music for television is becoming popular too, and we have 2 such soundtracks on our list.

Read on to see our 20 best selling soundtracks of 2018 and find out what made each release so special.

The shape of water soundtrack

20. Alexandre Desplat - The Shape of Water [OST]
Release Date: CD on 12/8/17, LP on 10/5/18

Guillermo del Toro's lush fantasy romanceThe Shape of Water won big at the 2018 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat. It's no surprise that this soundtrack made our top 20 best selling soundtacks of the year.

Halloween 40th anniversary soundtrack

19. John Carpenter - Halloween (1978) [40th Anniversary Transparent Orange Vinyl] [Score]
Release Date: LP on 10/26/18

An Other 'Best Music of 2016' List

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 31, 2016 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 


by Rick Frystak


Here in The Choice Bin, the wealth of superior new music that I get to be exposed to is just staggering.
The wealth of music around this whole planet is astounding, limited only by one's desires, with each new release or deep-dug reissue a shiny object for us to be drawn to. Walk into an Amoeba, an indie record store or check into some genre-specific internet radio and real college radio and you'll know what I mean. And this year was no exception for those who actively seek out new and old sounds and enjoy doing so.

As a youth I was glued to my AM and then FM radio, listening to Rock, Soul, Jazz and 20th Century Classical revelation. Some hosts would even compare hi-fi gear live on the air, using the latest LP cuts. We waited impatiently for stuff we'd heard to arrive at the 3 or 4 record stores in the vicinity. Then I rode to the record shop and bought my favorites, back then in mono for $1 cheaper, and later driving into Westwood for some small-label LP or expensive import that was a must-have. 

With the passing of many of our heroes so devastating, each moment of immersing oneself in their language and legacy is a precious one. And of course, there are the highly talented younger artists that bring a fresh, but well-informed element to their work and sometimes usher in new eras. Compelling, unfamiliar music seems to be discovered by me daily. Then to hear someone say, ''...nothing's happening musically now'', just sounds goofy. 

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