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Johann Johannsson

I was at the most wonderful performance last night. The Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. The group consisted of piano, electronics and string quartet. As far as pure, rich musical sound goes, a string quartet is unsurpassable. And these folks played very, very well. Perfectly in tune, and with dynamics that leave most all music that hits our ears in the dust bin of flatness.

For some unknown reason the music was quite moving to me. Unknown because even after 4 decades of being directly involved in the life of music, I still have no idea why some things move and some things don't. Last night moved. And not just me -- I could feel lot's of empathy with the music in the room.

Two things made for a unique night for me. And the first one made it extraoardinary.

Since the show was sold out, I bought a last minute, standing room only, ticket. However, I was fortunate enough to find two chairs at the very back of the room. They were next to the main doors against the back wall and right by the stairs down to the restrooms. So any time anyone came in and out of the venue or went to relieve themselves they walked right by these two seats.

I sat down and quickly soon after another fellow sat in the other chair. Eventually I learned his name was Andrew and I suspect he was an electronic musician. We didn't exchanged too many words, for the performance was just beginning.

And so we sat there right next to each other and listened to the music. Only listening. Nothing else. But together because we were in such close proximity to each other. It was an extremely intimate sharing, actually, as I could hear him humming along at times. Or I could tell that he was aware of when something amused me in the flow of sounds, as I would chuckle to myself or exhale or something to that effect.

What a unique experience to share an extending listening moment with someone else! And in this case a total stranger.

The second unique thing about this show was the high proportion of beautiful people there. This place, The Triple Door, is a pretty classy venue. Quite possibly one of the best places to hear a performance in Seattle. Great site lines, great sound, not too big. So there is the sense that you might dress up to go to a show here. But, in general Seattlites are pretty dumpy and dress accordingly. However, I noticed way too many sharp, classy and beautiful people that I began to get suspicious.

"What was going on here?", I began asking myself. And then, somewhere about halfway through the show, I realized what it was: This gig was filled with Icelandic expatriots. Of course. I have been around enough Icelanders to know that they are very classy and stylish, and sometimes dress in a very unusual fashion. As if they got their clothes off the set of "The Fifth Element."


 Englaborn rehearsal


from the recording "Fordlandia"


from the recording "And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees"


from the recording "Englaborn"




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Reader Comments (6)

makes me sorry they took me out of violin class in jr highschool and put in the percussion section of band..

May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterReginald Manning


now i'm really kicking myself that i missed the show. i found his work through IBM 1401, and he certainly carries a lot of emotion in his music, for all it's stately trappings.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrtm

Having loved his work on CD I can't wait to hear the music live in London very soon.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWill Cruttenden

Iceland and it,s music is an amazing place.... My ex wife and I were going to open a soul food restaurant there for six months out of the year.But divorce,collapse of their economy blew that up!!!Waitng for Sigur Ros to raise their newborns and start touring again...

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterReginald Manning

I ended up missing his show in Boston due to a time conflict. Now I'm really sorry I did.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteressex sound lab

Trey how come you know so many Icelanders ?

I have to listen to Johann Johannsson´s work.


August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterÖrn Orrason

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