Boomkat Product Review:
The quietly magisterial might of ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ has been a gateway for many listeners to the world of late, great composer Johann Jóhannsson. The vinyl version of his 2nd album now arrives agai on vinyl via Deutsche Grammophon’s ongoing reissue programme for Jóhannsson’s peerless catalogue.
Originally issued by Touch in 2004 on CD, and on vinyl in 2011, ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ followed from the fractured mosaic of ‘Englabörn’ (2002) to reveal Jóhannsson’s sound in landscaped widescreen across eight durational arrangements for heavy electronic bass, glowing brass horns, and stately organ. It’s a sound that arguably evokes the tundra expanses and snowy mountain ranges of the artist’s native Iceland, while also clearly infused with a slow-burning warmth of spirit and natural curiosity that’s long been key to his work.
This abridged vinyl edition features four tracks from the eight found on the CD. Ranging from 14’ to nearly 22’ in length, they take the longview on a form of contemporary classical minimalism, distilling a 12 piece ensemble into a suite of a subtly melancholy but optimistic fanfare underlined by tectonic bass drones and outlined by meridian electronic timbres that gradually work their way from the liminal extremes and into the record’s pregnant lacunæ by the final ‘Part 4.’
Essentially ‘Virðulegu Forsetar’ feels like a sanguine, telescoped vision of Jóhannsson’s’s future horizon, when he would emerge among the eminent film soundtrack composers of his generation. It remains a true classic in his catalogue, one of the strongest of the 21st century so far.