Next up in my coverage of By:Larm is experimental artist Jóhann Jóhannsson from Iceland. Jóhannsson is classically trained and works as a composer of movie and play soundtracks, producer, and experimental electronic/ambient music artist.
His live show at By:Larm was one of the most unique concert experiences I've had in a long time. His hypnotizing electronic ambient music, played in near-darkness, was supported by a live string quartet, and the result was an overwhelming and moving experience, and a truly beautiful show.
Having the string quartet with him on stage allowed Jóhannsson to include some of the lush string-based tracks from his 2006 album IBM 1401, A User's Manual, which are rarely performed live. Check out the track Part 2/IBM1403 Printer to get an impression of how this album manages to combine long stretches of cold, low-volume machine bleeps and bloops and obscure snippets of an audio manual to an old IBM computer with sections of warm and intense strings, and turn it into something truly beautiful. It all fades into each other in a unique way that just works. It took me a while after this concert to realize that I was indeed back on planet earth, and no longer floating around space, or perhaps (as during the more intense sections) trapped in the spaceship of 2001: A Space Oddissey.
For something more easily accessible, try Efripídes Og Neðripídel from Jóhannssons more upbeat album Dís (2004). On this track, the electronic soundscape is supported by live drums and guitars for a more energetic and cheerful instrumental track.
(photo courtesy of Eskil V)