Put A Record On: Rock 'N Roll Done Classical
December 1st, 2008 | Reykjavik
Despite an unstable economy, Iceland is still a mecca of musical excellence. Jóhann Jóhannsson's new album Fôrdlandia proves this point with its lilting instrumentation and incomparable sound. The composer has released four similar albums since 2002, but he was previously a founding member of Evil Madness, Kitchen Motors and Apparat Organ Quartet—three distorted electro pop bands that have achieved international cult success.
As a solo artist Jóhannsson records with full orchestras to create atmospheric and beautiful string music. The album's name recalls the rubber plantation unsuccessfully established by motor mogul Henry Ford in the Amazon jungle during the '20s. Jóhannsson was inspired by the theme of a failing utopia, drawing on the image of Ford's decaying village as the jungle slowly reclaimed its ruins.
Fôrdlandia benefits from its own contrasts—Jóhannsson recorded a few tracks in one take and left them unedited, while others were performed with 50 piece string orchestras. Tracks such as "Melodia(iii)" feature distorted guitars played ear-splittingly loud in the studio then mixed in at a low volume for a sweepingly majestic sound. Classical music is the new rock 'n roll.
Fôrdlandia is out now on 4AD Records. For more information, see www.myspace.com/johannjohannsson.