August 28, 2007


Geothermal rocks! (Brad Frenette, August 28, 2007, National Post)

It would be a challenge to find a city with a higher musician-per-capita rate than Iceland's capital, Reykjavik. Belying its relative small size (the city has fewer than 200,000 inhabitants), the planet's most northerly capital has produced critically hailed artists such as The Sugar-cubes, Emiliana Torrini, GusGus and Sigur Ros. Despite its remoteness, the city has long been a haven for culture, boasting renowned music and film festivals that draw international audiences. Even geologists refer to the city as a "hot spot" due to the number of geothermal springs that abound there. [...]

Q What's your favourite song penned by a Reykjavik-based artist?

LJ That's a tough one. The most beautiful music ever made in Iceland belongs to a guy called Johann Johannsson. He is in his late thirties. Remember this name.

JOHANN JOHANNSSON - Viroulegu Forsetar (Boomkat)

Finally available again. We've been waiting for this second album from Iceland's Johann Johannsson with bated breath, anything even vaguely as majestic, original or beautiful as his massively acclaimed debut "Englaborn" would come as a much needed addition to this year's frankly astonishing collection of minimal music for home listening. "Viroulegu Forsetar" is all that and more, a breathtaking hour-long composition in four parts that reeks of all the majesty and grandeur of classical music as it seeps into the realm of imaginary soundtracking. Written for and performed by 11 Brass players, percussion, electronics, organ and piano, Johannson seems intent on making himself one of the most notable modern composers working in the field today.

Song of the Day: Johann Johannsson: Computer on the Radio (Tristan C. Kraft, August 9, 2007,
Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson pits the string orchestra against the computer, a struggle also known as "man vs. machine." In 1971, Johannsson's father recorded the sound of the IBM 1401 mainframe computer, using a radio receiver and a reel-to-reel tape machine to capture the electromagnetic waves emitted by different computer functions. Thirty years later, the younger Johannsson rearranged the tape for choreographer Erna Omarsdottir, adding a string orchestra and a recording of the IBM instruction tape he'd found in his father's attic. Late last year, Johannsson released the result on CD — as IBM 1401, A User's Manual — with conductor Mario Klemens and the City of Prague Philharmonic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 28, 2007 6:57 AM

I'm a technical writer in the computer industry, so I'm really getting a kick, etc., etc.

Some of the poorly-translated computer manuals from Taiwan would make for a more amusing libretto: "Do not place personal object in print head area...Discharge monthly to avoid battery memory effect."

Posted by: ted welter at August 28, 2007 10:14 AM

Ah, for the good ol' days when people would write programs to play songs on the old, hulking 132 column chain printers. Or have Morse code translators whose only output is generated by a the computer's RFI.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 28, 2007 10:30 AM