Johann Johannson, co-founder of the Icelandic Kitchen Motors arts organization and writer/producer for Marc Almond and Barry Adamson, among others, originally wrote Englaborn for Havar Sigurjonsson’s Icelandic play of the same name and it was first released in 2002 on the Touch label. This is an entirely deserved reissue from 4AD of what has been described as the most beautiful music in Icelandic theatre. Englaborn is, indeed, utterly gorgeous.
Composed for string quartet, piano, organ, glockenspiel and percussion and manipulated with electronic ‘backrounds’, the album begins by setting Catullus’s famous poem “Odi et Amo’ in a setting reminiscent of Wendy (nee Walter) Carlos, composer of Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange.
Johannsson’s music is extremely nuanced, a collection of ever-changing moods moving beyond words while maintaining a profound simplicity. Shimmering, colourful and alive, it’s not surprising to hear that strangers have come up to Johannsson and hugged him since hearing it. Reissue of the year, without a doubt.