The Sound of Being and Nothingness
And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees originated as the score for Marc Craste’s Varmints, a short animated film based on the book of the same name by Helen Ward. Johannsson combines choral, orchestral and electronic elements with devastating effect to complement the tale of a creature struggling to survive the life-threatening consequences of a reckless indifference; one that is unfortunately echoed in the ongoing destruction of the entire Gulf region.
Johann Johannsson has scored many films and, as his composition tends to establish and repeat musical themes while evoking strong emotion, the demand should continue. There is an overt beauty to Johannsson’s music which may be too rich for some tastes. It is less ethereal and fleshier than, say, Arvo Part’s skeletal classical compositions. Some of the passages and evolving themes in his albums may be the musical equivalent of a series of Rothko canvases: capable of absorbing and reflecting one’s emotional and spiritual concerns, and also of unearthing feelings and memories. At times, listening to Johannsson is how I imagine taking the train alone from South East Australia to Perth across several days of relatively unchanging terrain to be: an existential mirror of loneliness and mortality. The gradual, inevitable, crescendos in Johannsson’s music are like driving south for 500 miles on US 93 inching toward the neon blaze of Las Vegas. His work is as deep as the listener can allow it to be and far too complex to be described as minimalist. I gather that some people find his music insubstantial but the releases I have heard, from Englaborn, IBM 1401 and Fordlandia to And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees, combine powerful, expressive components with a sincere, intellectual clarity for an addictive listening experience.
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