Title - 'Englabörn & Variations' (Remastered & Reworked)
Artist - Jóhann Jóhannsson
If you have never heard the name Jóhann Jóhannsson, then please allow me to enlighten you. Jóhannsson, who sadly passed earlier this year, was an Icelandic composer who wrote music for a wide array of media including theatre, dance, television and films.
Indeed, his work is stylized by its blending of traditional orchestration with contemporary electronic elements.
Jóhannsson released solo albums from 2002 onward and in 2016, he signed with Deutsche Grammophon through which he released his last solo album, Orphée.
He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for both 'The Theory of Everything' and 'Sicario', and won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score for 'The Theory of Everything'.
He was a music and sound consultant on 'Mother!', directed by Darren Aronofsky in 2017 and his scores for both 'Mary Magdalene' and 'Mandy' were released posthumously.
During the weeks before his untimely passing on February 9th, the award-winning Icelandic composer was closely involved in preparations for the reissue of his debut album, Englabörn.
Originally released in 2002, the album has now been Remastered and a second disc containing re-workings of several tracks have also been assembled. Released this past April 27th, 2018 via Deutsche Grammophon, it is still one of the most magnificent compositions of work within this genre that I've heard in a long, long time.
CD 1 - Englabörn Remastered
1. 'Odi Et Amo'
3. 'Jói & Karen'
4. 'Ţetta Gerist Á Bestu Bćjum'
6. '"Ég Sleppi Ţér Aldrei"'
7. 'Sálfrćđingur Deyr'
9. '"Ég Heyrđi Allt Án Ţess Ađ Hlusta"'
10. 'Karen Býr Til Engil'
11. 'Englabörn - Tilbrigđi'
12. '"Ég Átti Gráa Ćsku"'
14. '"Ef Ég Hefđi Aldrei... "'
15. '… Eins Og Venjulegt Fólk'
16. 'Odi Et Amo - Bis'
CD 2 - Englabörn Variations
Reworks by: A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Jóhannsson & Donadello / Ryuichi Sakamoto
Viktor Orri Arnason / Alex Somers
Hildur Guđnadóttir / Paul Corley
Choir versions performed by Theatre of Voices
Piano version performed by Víkingur Ólafsson
Englabörn – the album – and not the original score to Hávar Sigurjónsson’s play, is a free-standing album with its sixteen sublime miniatures steeped in austere melodic elegance and profound melancholy.
Indeed, some of these tracks were reworked by Jóhannsson himself – including a piano version of the title track performed by fellow Deutsche Grammophon artist Víkingur Ólafsson.
Whilst others were created by artist such as the illustrious, and magnificent Ryuichi Sakamoto, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, and Hildur Guđnadóttir.
For me personally, it's Ólafsson's work on an arrangement of 'Odi et Amo' for unaccompanied choir interpreted by Theatre of Voices and conducted by Paul Hillier that stands out like an incredible spire in the sky of love and devotion for Jóhannsson's work here. Breathtaking to say the least.
Ryuichi Sakamoto is also on top form - that said, when is he ever not - and brings us an exquisite 'Jói & Karen.' Himself a master at creating hybrids of classical composition and electronic ambience, Sakamoto quickly gets to the emotional kernel of the piece while also adding his own personal flourishes.
In closing, the new Remastering has also brought with it a revitalization of the original sound. To my ear it is now some much crisper, the volume louder, the sculptured ambiance thicker. I would like to think that Jóhann Jóhannsson would most definitely approve.
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Official 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link
Jóhann Jóhannsson @ Facebook!