Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Miners’ Hymns

No matter your preferred style of music, it is impossible to overlook the captivatingly mournful, eerie, and powerful sounds of Jóhann Jóhannsson. The Miners’ Hymns is the soundtrack to
Bill Morrison’s film about coalminers in Northeast England that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last April. Morrison’s film (alluded by the song titles like “An Injury to One is the Concern of All,” “Industrial and Provident, We Unite to Assist Each Other,” and “The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World”) focuses mainly on the political fight of unions amongst miners. Jóhannsson, with the conducting of fellow Icelander Gudni Franzson, created this album with a sixteen piece brass ensemble, an organ, and subtle electronic elements that tap into the emotional core of listeners. The songs build intricately in volume and tensions often using subtle silences to contrast elegantly roaring portions. Listeners receive a place for their minds to freely wander in the dark mystery of sounds, but with rousing horn sections erupting from the haunting hum listeners will frequently be returned to the brink of reality. Jóhannsson, who is renowned for producing extremely powerful electronic music that challenges the idea of what electronic music is, commands the flow of The Miners’ Hymns smoothly from silence to sound allowing this album to excel to greatness amongst his numerous other works. Although modified speech is not used on this album, Jóhannsson still produces classical influence sound similar to previous works which most notably include Englabörn, IBM 1401, and Fordlândia, among others. (Fat Cat, fatcat-usa.com) Jesse Blackman

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