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Jóhannsson, Johann: Dís

For anyone who maintains a fascination for the analog and melodic early days of the synthesizer and the resulting naïve and usually fresh sensibility of that music will acknowledge Jóhannson's reworked film soundtrack as perfection of the made possible by Buchla and Moog some 40 years ago.

Unlike the seminal beatbox albums of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia, la Düsseldorf and others, up to and including the remarkably polished 2004 rendering of this aesthetic found on Tonetrager's This is not here, Jóhannson shows off his own profound compositional skill by thematically chaining his pieces in the most discrete and persistently subtle ways. Phrases and fragments turn up in new contexts across all fifteen tracks, with touches that epitmoize a recherch'e sensibility of high coherence, slowly emerging over repeated plays. While such care in structure displays obvious benefits for use as a soundtrack, it also displays an above average sense of timing and pacing traditionally out of place in what appears to be simply a collection of tunes. Anyone addicted to long-form suites, thematic development, ground and variation would have a blast picking out the strands that weave this tight mesh.

As for the sonic impression: Dís features all the many and overt little quirks of early synthesis: frank, triangle/saw/sine/square purity of fundamental wave forms, easily spotted pitch and amplitude modulation, some restrained gliss and the impossible to miss thwoppy arguments between amplitude and filter envelopes. These now familiar sounds are set into mostly cheery percussion patterns and shaded with somewhat more subtle voicings. At one point some actual singing comes into the soundstage, a wispy female voice perfectly matching the surface dilettantism of the instruments. Dís is airy and beguiling stuff, with enough ballast to reward close listening.

Track Listing
01) Bankok Norðursins
02) 10 Rokkstig
03) Sumavéi
04) Gúmmískór
05) Já, Hemmi Minn
06) Efripídes Og Neðripídel
07) Jarðaför
08) Þynnkudagur
09) Ruslpóstur
10) Ljósrit
11) Flugeldar
12) Ónefnt
13) Hótel Borg
14) Dís
15) Flugeldar II

Added: January 2nd 2008
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1849
Language: english

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