ENGLABÖRN & VARIATIONS Jóhannsson 4799842

. . . the album's sonic palette is eminently familiar, but the compositions remain just as seductive, dramatic and captivating. Phil Spector built walls of sound but Johannsson's compositions are like kaleidoscopes of sieves. There are multiple layers but there's also a skillful economy to the motifs -- a combination at once airy, dense and vibrant . . . . The variations aren't a complete set, though some tunes get multiple covers. Johannsson's input validates them and they range from basic to complex to frenzied. Some of Johannsson's ability of compression gets diluted but the mysteriousness remains intact . . . ["Odi et Amo"] becomes an elegiac coda, a requiem for the innovative composer. Though seemingly ideal for winter, the 16 tracks on the 48 minutes of "Englaborn" trigger deep impressions in any season.

This reissue is poignant in the wake of the composer's untimely death, but its graceful melodies would be moving in any context.

. . . ["Englabörn"] has all the hallmarks of the film scores that followed: the knack for finding a heart-stirring theme and developing variations, the suggestion of emotional complexity in a handful of notes, being traditional in his sound while also suggesting new possibilities . . . a profound body of work that will continue to resonate.

. . . the most poignant [variation] is Víkingur Ólafsson's solo piano performance of the title track. Together, both sides to "Englabörn & Variations" will be sorely missed.