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Film Soundtracks - Released April 5, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released March 23, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Film Soundtracks - Released February 2, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Film Soundtracks - Released September 18, 2015 | Varese Sarabande

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 12, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Pop - Released March 29, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 22, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Like many composers and musicians who make primarily instrumental music, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work has been described as filmic, and he has in fact scored several films. Still, And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees occupies a special place in his body of work. This music was written for Marc Craste’s 2008 short animated film Varmints -- which was adapted from Helen Ward’s Craste's illustrated book of the same name -- and it’s a story that fits the concerns Jóhannsson explored in works like IBM: A User’s Manual and Fordlandia with almost eerie perfection. Technology, hubris, overconsumption, and the environment all factor into Varmints’ tale of a little animal who must find a way to protect life as he knows it from an encroaching city. With the help of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Jóhannsson covers purity and corruption, hope and despair, and the natural and mechanical worlds over the course of 37 minutes; a short-form work compared to some of his other albums. But while the massiveness of works like Fordlandia was part of what made them so stunning, And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees’ strength comes from its small size -- much like the varmint the film follows. In just over three minutes, “Theme” sketches out the fragile beauty of the animal’s bee-filled meadow and the first hints of the coming devastation; “The Flat”’s industrial drones and electronic vapor trails evoke its aftermath in just a few minutes more. Even if this isn’t among Jóhannsson’s bleakest music, it’s among his most emotional, and much more somber than most scores for animated films. Yet his approach is never cartoonish. If anything, “Entering the City”’s muted strings and harp and the beckoning pipe organ and choir of “Siren Song” are some of his subtlest pieces, making the glimpses of light and hope in “Pods” and “Rainwater” -- which sounds so fresh that it seems to carry a breeze -- all the more tantalizing. As always, Jóhannsson conveys these shifts in mood effortlessly but with great nuance. The album’s most hopeless moments, such as the almost weeping soprano vocals on “City Building (Alt. Version)” and the vast bleakness of “Escape,” come before the sunrise of “Inside the Pods”’ strings and “End Theme”’s wide-open joy, but it feels far from clichéd. And in the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees was originally available as a 1000-copy vinyl release on Jóhannsson’s 2009 North American tour, but many more people than that need to hear this intimate album from a composer who expresses himself more exquisitely with each work. ~ Heather Phares
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Classical - Released March 8, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released March 23, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 15, 2019 | WaterTower Music

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 4, 2008 | 4AD

Musical Theatre - Released December 8, 2014 | ASH INTERNATIONAL

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 28, 2014 | Milan Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released December 4, 2015 | Sonic Pieces

Released in 2014, End of Summer is an unnarrated black-and-white documentary short that captures landscape images of the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby island of South Georgia. Its soundtrack consists of Jóhann Jóhannsson's original score and field recordings from the Icelandic composer's visit to the region; he's also the film's director. With collaborators Hildur Gudnadottir (voice, cello) and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (voice, synthesizer), both of whom contributed to writing parts of the score, Jóhannsson sculpts a droning, doleful ambience that blends cello, sustained vocals, and electronics to elegant effect. The score has a playing time just short of 30 minutes, corresponding to the length of the documentary. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Electronic/Dance - Released October 30, 2006 | 4AD

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 15, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

On his 2005 album, Jóhann Jóhannsson continued his style-scrambling mix of impulses with the gusto evident on earlier work. The opening "Banlol Northursins" crosses everything from winsome lo-fi organ pop to space rock zone to slow and steady funk breaks and more, with an aesthetic that can best be summed up as beholden to none of these styles in particular. It makes even more sense as a result that the immediately following song, "10 Rokkstig," is a sharp, peppy electro-rock number that should be concluding a triumphant teen dramedy epic in space. The album's flow of often short, discrete songs further emphasizes a sense of the soundtrack-for-the-unfilmed movie, mood setters that work all over the map in the best of ways. There's elegant piano-led moodiness like "Já, Hemmi Minn" and "Ónefnt" that Wong Kar-Wai might kill for (especially when the latter breaks into a slow waltz groove). Meantime, songs like "Eíripídes, Og Neðtipídel," with its brawling drum punch, and deep bass growls against softer tones and bells toward the end add a peppy tinge to the tune. There's a revisiting of sounds as the album continues, but sometimes in unexpected ways -- if "Ljósrit" is the first song over again, it's a shorter and even moodier version. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about Dis is how clearly Jóhannsson embraces and then reuses so many elements of what was labeled as glitch or experimental techno for his own particular ends. It would be a disservice to say he adds heart to such music, but the more immediate embrace of sonic melancholia and sweetness on songs like "Pynnkudagur" -- yet another roll-the-credits song of the highest quality -- as piano, subharmonics, soft electronic melodies, and distant voices combine, can't be denied. ~ Ned Raggett
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Electronic/Dance - Released October 9, 2006 | 4AD

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Classical - Released July 15, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released July 15, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 19, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)