I stumbled across a remarkable soundtrack yesterday by the Icelandic composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson. I came across it in the unlikeliest of ways. I was watching the trailer to Battle: Los Angeles (yes, yes I know) which looks utter tripe but the music was really compelling (as you can hear if you click on the link) and I just had to find out who composed it. It was Jóhannsson.
As I was heading in to London anyway I thought I’d drop in at HMV to see which of his CDs they had in stock. And this is what I came away with. It isn’t the music featured on the trailer but it’s an achingly beautiful album. And as it’s available on soundcloud I thought I’d embed it here.
It’s an outstanding mix of choral, orchestral and electronic elements creating a truly haunting, nakedly emotional work. Some of it is very dark. In fact the track, Escape is one of the darkest things I’ve heard in some time. It begins with a drone of strings, a cello drags itself from the mire and then the most extraordinary electro-acoustic moan bellows forth before a choir joins to pull the track back into the darkness. It is a vividly spectral listen.
If you’ve been a little stressed lately (as I have) then this hugely satisfying collection of tracks could be just what you need to hear. Set the lights low and turn the volume up – this is a truly moving and memorable piece of music…
The cello. One of my favourite instruments. It is said that it is the one which most resembles the human voice. Perhaps that accounts for how emotive and haunting it can be to listen to.
Zoë Keating is an incredible cellist. Classically trained from an early age she actually cut her teeth playing with a variety of rock bands but is now regarded as a one-woman orchestra thanks to her use of sampling technology. She samples her playing and solo performances to create multiple layers and textures of sound and the results are often quite stunning and sublime.
She takes, as she says, a “label-less” approach to releasing her music and does so via Bandcamp (the site I talked about in my previous post). Although you can buy her CDs from amazon and itunes as well. Below is a track from her first EP, One Cello x16 and her latest album, Into The Trees. They’re both fantastic.
If you love what you hear, I urge you to click on the links and buy a copy so that she can keep making beautiful music. I think she’s an amazing talent.
After I started this blog and called it the memory house, I did a google search of the name (as one does) just to see what else popped up. Of course many, many things did. But I had no idea that a masterpiece in necoclassical music was there to be found.
It’s a beautiful piece. And, whilst I thought of changing the name and have no pretensions to my blog having any kind of link with such a work, it’s such a poignant and evocative piece that I thought what better inspiration could there be…
Here is Max Richter’s memoryhouse:
Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin have always been miraculous. This year’s recording by the young German violinist Isabelle Faust is an absolute revelation and one of the finest I’ve heard. Below is a clip from youtube. It’s not the finest on the disc but there are only two on the site. Whilst listening to it you should read the article at the link below the video.
The link takes you to the, ‘Music, Mind, Spirit’ website. This is a music retreat and charitable trust that examines the impact of music on our emotions, well-being and development. I’ve never visited but have always been fascinated at the power of music to move us so profoundly. The article investigates the secret codes or messages that Bach may (or may not according to how sceptical you are) have hidden in his music. Whether utter bunkum or not – it makes for intriguing reading, especially when listening to the very works that are meant to contain these bedrocks of faith.
Enjoy finding the codes amongst the notes…
Here’s the article on Bach’s secret code (an embedded recording starts to play automatically so if you are listening to the video above you’ll need to stop the embedded clip on the page)
So, am having a bit of a classical renaissance in my place a the moment. There’s something about the winter that draws me back to the sounds of strings, altos, tenors and choruses. I know, I know – I have become a walking, talking cliché. But for me the sounds of summer are jangling guitars, catchy choruses and shiny pop, gleaming with the reflected glory of blue skies and the summer sun high in the air. Whereas winter needs, no commands something a little more soul-stirring. What was I saying about a walking, talking cliché?
Here are a couple of favourites that are accompanying me on these cold, dark days – I hope you enjoy them
Play track: Zelenka, Miserere zwv 57