Don’t be fooled by the fact that ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’, which translates as ‘Honorable Presidents’ for those who’ve forgotten their GCSE Icelandic, is listed as being in four parts - the division of this hour-long work into quarters is purely for technical reasons. Taken as a whole this is beatific and gorgeous stuff from the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, a droning brass-led ambience that combines Steve Reich’s phasing techniques with the cerebral bliss of Arvo Pärt.
Vinyl Double LP £29.49 4837389
Reissue 2LP on Deutsche Grammophon.
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This is a vinyl edition containing a recording of one hour-long piece for 11 brass players, percussion, electronics, organs and piano. The first two sides contain trumpet drones, the second two sides also contain trumpet drones. I'm not sure what the 11 people do (squeeze Johann's toothpaste perhaps?) as its very, very minimal throughout with no great dynamics to the music and several moments of complete silence. The brass is used to splendid affect, with soft drones, minimal alteration in tones. The piece had its live debut in Hallgrimskirkja, a large church in Reykjavik and I bet in its cavernous confines the event was spectacular. Harder to gauge on a dreary, grey friday morning in wet old England with people on telephones, cutting up boxes, fire alarms going off all around me but from what I can make out, in the right context this will be a spectacularly gorgeous if very minimalist piece.
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