I first heard Jóhann Jóhannsson’s soundtrack to Prisoners, in a theater in Seattle, watching a thriller by Denis Villeneuve about an abduction of two young girls. The bleak environment surrounding the sorrow, dread and a peculiar discomfort was punctuated by the orchestral strings transcending tension, angst and heartache. The atmosphere of the music was haunting and even frightening at times. The numerous variations on a prevalent melody were wrought with worry, turmoil and suspense.
The textured ambiance took me to a place that I’ve attempted to escape, except there was no place to run—the sonic storm was moving fast and soon it was upon me. In the past decade, in addition to his critically acclaimed full-length releases on labels such as Touch, 4AD and FatCat, Jóhannsson has composed numerous scores for feature films and stage works. The soundtrack to Prisoners is available from WaterTower Music on CD, and via Jóhannsson’s own label, Kitchen Motors, on vinyl.