Sunday, 26 April 2009

April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land

It is said that strangers have come up to Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannsson and hugged him upon listening to his album Englabörn. I personally have not listened to an album of such profoundness in a long time. With Jóhann Jóhannsson slowly rising to the foot of mount Olympus, people will soon be forgetting about Sigur Rós and wondering what ever happened to Björk. Mr. Jóhannsson has established himself as the foremost Icelandic composer of our time. 

The album Englabörn from 2002 is the debut album of mr. Jóhannsson, and one could not tell from a quick listen to it. Originally written for the Icelandic play Englabörn by Havar Sigurdjonsson, it was re-released upon being discovered as the gem it is. 

Highlights: Where does one start when the album is flawless? 

  • Odi Et Amo: The poem Catullus 85 by Roman poet Catullus was set to music by Jóhann Jóhannsson. This poem is an intriguingly short (lasting 2 lines) exploration of the conflict of human emotions:   
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

I hate and I love. Why I do this, perhaps you ask.
I do not know, but I sense that it is happening and I am tortured.
          The music is hauntingly beautiful, with vocals reciting the poem multiple times. 

  • Eg Sleppi Per Aldrei: Magical track building up heavily using string instruments, it is a gorgeous demonstration of contemporary Classical music with electronic elements incorporated. When I say it is magical I mean it, the music is like taken out of a fairy tale.

PS: The title is a reference to a former Mertonian's body of work. Can you guess whom?

1 comment:

  1. The answer is T.S. Eliot, by the way. This is an opening line from his Modernist poem The Wasteland, which fundamentally shaped the Modernist territory and lay the foundation for much literature to come.