Jóhann Jóhannsson
Int. Release 16 Sep. 2016
1 CD / Download
0289 479 6021 8

Track List

Jóhann Jóhannsson
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yuki Numata Resnick, Tarn Travers, Ben Russell, Clarice Jensen

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden

Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir


Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden


Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden

Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Dirac Quartet


Jóhann Jóhannsson


Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Dirac Quartet

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden


Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden


Theatre of Voices

Total Playing Time 46:35

. . . ["A Song for Europa"]: exquisite . . .

An air of melancholy presides over the album . . . As the strings take control, the listener realizes that Jóhannsson has become a master of quick emotion; it doesn't take long to go from zero to poignant . . . "Orphée" is subtle, quiet, nuanced, revealing its heart in cautious intervals, building shade upon shade until the overall color is revealed.

. . . a grand opus of ethereal electronica and epic orchestral flourishes . . . a piano refrain is the constant catalyst and as a whole, the album resolves beautifully . . . this would make a perfect accompaniment to Ovid's version of the myth. After all, Orpheus of Thrace had the ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music. Jóhann Jóhannsson isn't so far off himself.

When you hear music as transcendent as this, you experience one of those rare epiphanies and realise you're listening to a new work of genius rather than to something merely brilliant . . . Intimate string and piano pieces and large-scale orchestral works seamlessly incorporate heavily processed electronics . . . to hypnotically expressive effect . . . the autumnal melancholy of "Song For Europa", with its echoes of Barber's elegiac adagios, is almost tear-inducing. But then "Fragment II" astounds in a quite different way as colossal, electronic waves engulf pensive strings . . . [one of the most subtly affecting tracks is "A Deal With Chaos", which introduces] a chilling element of grainy retro-futurism . . . Johannsson's ability to shift with astonishing elan from the tectonically elemental to the melodically-filigreed is, quite peerlessly, his own.

. . . haunting sketches of instrumental poetry . . . If you're into Philip Glass and Michael Nyman and Arvo Pärt and movie soundtracks in general, this could be for you.

"Orphée" is stylistically varied but united by an overarching power . . . Each of the new album's 15 pieces is imbued with an authority which demands instant attention . . . head to the short "Fragment II" (the 10th track) for an instant summary of the album's splendour . . . [with "Orphée", Jóhannsson] has returned to focussing on who he is. More of this please.

. . . ["By The Roes, And By The Hinds Of The Field" is] one of "Orphée's" more quietly gorgeous tracks -- you get a tidy summation of what the album (and Jóhannson) is about. Its simple, somber piano melody is backed by cyclical waves of strings, then nearly drowned out by a sudden cloudburst of distorted radio static, before emerging steadfastly on the other side . . . beautiful . . .

"Orphée's" grandeur is made clear within seconds. Using only a few repeated parts of piano, violin, and some crackling sound treatments, opener "Flight from the City" takes off . . . Boldest of all is "Orphée's" a capella closer "Orphic Hymn," which features a breathtaking choral vocal performance by Paul Hillier's Theatre of Voices . . . the angelic arrangement makes you wish that he had found more opportunities to integrate vocals . . . It's exciting to hear the freedom of Jóhannsson's compositions in autonomous music, and with "Orphée" he's reasserted himself as not a just an elegiac film score guy . . . and provides a clear blast attestation that Jóhannsson is among the brightest lights of any member of the loosely grouped post-classical genre.

. . . [it's easy to see why Jóhannsson's] majestic compositions have found a home in cinema, but "Orphée" proves that they can stand alone; his unique blend of classical, ambient, and experimental music moves steadily but deliberately, each piece wallowing in its own grandeur . . . the album is a bold, personal statement, and a delight from start to finish . . .

. . . Johann Johannsson's sweeping yet sparse electronica is undeniably impressive and creates an atmosphere of awe and wonder.

. . . subtle . . . Unhurried passages of string melodies dominate . . . underpinned by unsettling notes of cello and bursts of shortwave radio . . . No less emotive, his piano work on "The Radiant City" . . . while "Orphic Hymn" offers an ecclesiastical, revelatory conclusion.

. . . ["Orphée"]: an austere new record inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus, which features diverse orchestrations including haunting, repetitive pieces for cello and electronics alongside large-scale choral work. What unites these very different configurations is Jóhannsson's ability to transform a simple motif into something both mesmerizing and consequential.

Johannsson's storytelling is stately and sombre. He does lush, spacious things with piano, organ, solo cello, string quartet, string orchestra, voices and crackling electronics, and the arrangements are sensitively done . . . A beautiful resolution comes at the end when Paul Hillier's Theatre of Voices sing a cappella text from Ovid's "Metamorphoses".

. . . ["Orphée"] combines the ancient and modern worlds with grace, elegance, and poise . . . listening to Orphée's fifteen tracks makes it clear that there's more to it than "just" music; there's a profundity to it all that comes across even if you don't know the multilayered inspirations behind it . . . sumptuous and expressive . . . "Orphée" blurs the line between myth and reality, history and fiction, but at the same time it welds together past, present, and future to create a powerful piece of work . . .

. . . ["Orphée"] forces you to create your own scenes in your head as it delivers delicate and melancholic introspection . . . "Orphée" can be a silent and partly epic reflection on the troubled world . . . But the rest is up to your imagination and that's the best effect of this record.

. . . ["Orphée" is] immediately recognizable as Jóhannsson's. On "Flight from the City," a gentle but insistent piano motif rises and falls like breath, while strings deepen its sweet ache; layers of counterpoint inspire bittersweet wonder on "The Drowned World"; "Orphic Hymn" showcases the composer's flair for choral pieces . . . Orphée's studies in change give equal time time to mourning and hope, whether on the spine-tingling "A Pile of Dust" or the way "A Sparrow Alighted Upon Our Shoulder" and "By the Roes, and by the Hinds of the Field" dance between joy and sorrow . . . On "Orphée", Jóhannsson expresses the need to let some things and people go to let new ones in with remarkable nuance, as well as the affecting beauty fans have come to know and love.

. . . his Orpheus myth-inspired tale is visually evocative -- ominous and wintery. My favorite pieces on this album, such as "Flight From the City," have Jóhannsson playing spare piano figures that counter the somber sweep of the strings.

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's "Orphée" is the sort of entrancing work I can disappear into for hours. The title is a reference to the Orpheus myth, so it contains subtext from the underworld. On "Filght From the City" Jóhannson intertwines a mournful piano line with some strings and just a breath of dissonant electronics to devastating effect. A distorted voice offers a chilling counterpart to a sweeping piece played by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble on "A Song for Europa."

. . . ["Orphic Hymn" is] sung with sublime power and restraint by Paul Hillier's Theatre of Voices . . . Jóhannsson's imaginative synthesis of spiritual minimalism and electronica will satisfy fans familiar with his soundtracks . . .

. . . certainly one of the most brilliant composer of these times . . . Many pieces have accompanied me in certain moments over the last years . . . [e.g.] his latest more quiet and minimal solo release, "Orphée", with a palpable sense of space and silence which allows me to nest myself within the music and just live there for a while.

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson - Orphée (Trailer)

    Orphée shows the full range of the Icelandic composer’s remarkable invention and uncanny feeling for atmosphere. The music of the entire album is tied together structurally by recurring harmonic and melodic elements, yet each track sounds fresh, evocative and unique.