Jóhann Jóhannsson Englaborn

Englaborn was written to soundtrack a stage play by the same title, which apparently happens to be violent and dark themed, thus the Icelandic Johannsson tried to work as much against this mood by composing music that is quite mellifluous. Rather than music that merely fits as cue points in a play, this recording stands on its own. However, an overall narrative pervades, as the differing intensities of emotions expressed are quite perceptible. For the most part, Englaborn is music for a string quartet, but other sounds occur, such as a glockenspiel, percussion and electronic sound manipulations. Despite the variances in sounds, nothing on this album can hold a candle to the shimmering beauty of the string arrangements. The only other strong emotion expressed on Englaborn, apart from honeyed joy, is melancholy articulated via slowly phrased string pieces and jittery notes. The most interesting track on this CD is "Odi et Amo," the closing song, which starts with a computerised vocal emulator reciting a Latin poem before embarking on a mournful string arrangement. (Touch)