Jóhann Jóhannsson The Miner's Hymns

Jóhann Jóhannsson The Miner's Hymns
Since making the move from Touch to 4AD back in 2006, Jóhannsson's efforts have tended towards slightly effortless and soundtrack-y themes. IBM 1401 and Fordlandia were both competent, even stirring, but this first outing on FatCat (ironically an actual soundtrack to a Bill Morrison film) draws upon minimalist approaches absent since his earliest work. Morrison's film is an elegy of sorts, constructed from archival footage, to the disappearing history of North England coalmining. Jóhannsson's themes ― foregrounding brass over strings ― match that blurring overlay of memory onto celluloid with tense, rumbling washes of sound that separate clarion eruptions at unexpected intervals and distances. Playing with long near-silences, sweeping interludes and very subtle electronic manipulation create breaks to then restore the prevailing quiet. It's incredibly affecting, showing a restraint and deftness that have been on reserve since 2004's Virðulegu Forsetar. (Fat Cat)