Jóhann Jóhannsson - Englabörn
Englabörn is actually a pretty old recording now, 5 years old in fact, but I was sent a copy because 4AD had decided to give it a wider release than its initial best-selling run on Iceland's Touch records. Johannsoon is something of renaissance man in that very country, composing, producing and running his own label. This recording, his first major piece, was originally written as the soundtrack to a theatrical performance, but was later adapted slightly to work as a record. It's a modern classical piece at heart, but one that is palatable enough, and takes enough steps into electronic and ambient directions to be appealing to people who might be into, for example, Eno, Tortoise, or the earlier (and better) work of Sigur Ros.
It's clear to see why it's made such an impression on so many, becoming something of a cult record to those who know it; it's very much a long piece rather than a series of compositions; a record that rewards repeated listens and carries the same sort of instrumental storytelling feel to it that you might get with something like Dirty Three's Ocean Songs record. It's melancholic beauty is quiet and yet starkly affecting, bringing out deeper sensation with each repetition, and it's definitely made me curious enough to seek out his newer releases (he apparently has a new record out on 4AD next spring). This reissue is out on either the 12th or 26th November in the UK, but the press release can't make its mind up. As it's meant to be heard (I feel) in order, here are the first three tracks. Hopefully they'll inspire you to seek out the rest...
Johann Johannsson - 01 Odi et Amo
Johann Johannsson - 02 Englaborn
Johann Johannsson - 03 Joi & Karen