Saturday, November 29

Iceland: A Nation of Nap Musicians

Artist: Johann Johannsson
Album: Fordladia

I'll be the first to admit that my last few reviews haven't really been up to snuff. A big part of it is my personal lethargy, combined with a fear of losing my fastball and the lingering effects of some crippling self consciousness issues. A smaller part of it is the natural aging process, specifically the fear of losing touch.

You have to understand, it's a daily struggle not to be wretched.

I'm trying to combat this by keeping tabs on whats going on, doing whatever I can to stay ahead of the curve. I check the blogs. I ask my colleagues what they're listening to. I scan release sheets. A big resource is, a fantastic location for anyone who likes to quantify pop culture at large.

It was this at this media nexus that I came across Johann Johannsson and Fordlandia, his album of classically arranged atmosphere music.

(Between Johannsson and Sigur Ros, Iceland has the market cornered on dramatic orchestral music. I'm not exactly sure what it is about that country that makes people want to craft epic background music, but after watching that Sigur Ros DVD, I'm not surprised. 10 minutes of landscape still shots and I'm ready to pick up a cello and find a woodwind section.)

It's hard for me to give Fordlandia a proper review. I am not classically trained. I'm know very little about music theory. I'm just some loudmouth in a sea of loudmouths all spouting the same opinions. I am barely a journalist. I can't comment much more on Fordlandia other than I enjoy having it on while I'm doing something else.

Maybe I'm just a philistine, but I have a hard time engaging classical music. I understand that Beethoven and Bach and Schumer and Mozart were brilliant geniuses who wrote indispensable music, but I'm never just putting them on to listen to them. I put them on to write or talk or snuggle, but the music is always secondary to what I'm doing.

Does Johannsson's blend of modern classical deserve to be mentioned with the past greats? Probably not. But the point is that I can't tell, so I can't really review this album properly.

Johannsson's latest album (his 6th) falls into this category. Fordlandia is a lush, pretty album that will pass the time while you write a paper or an email and I'm fully open to the possibility of this totally consuming the right person. Both the song titles and the musical arrangements suggest that Johannsson has a story to tell, but for a low class brat like me, the best stories are told with words. The hype has this being one of the years best album, but in my ears, its just a pretty soundtrack the mundane.

If you are interested, has a pretty good breakdown of Fordlandia. Just in case, you know, ACTUAL reviews are your thing.

No comments: