Matthias M.D. Hemstock: percussion and electronics
Audur Hafsteinsdottir: Violin
Greta Gudmundsdottir: Violin
Gudmundur Kristmundsson: Viola
Hrafnkell Egilsson: Cello
Jóhann Jóhannsson: organ and electronics
In addition to his own projects, Apparat Organ Quartet and the artists’ platform Kitchen Motors, this Icelandic composer and sonic artist has worked with Marc Almond, Hafler Trio, Mum, Sigur Ros and Pansonic, amongst others. His two solo albums released on the Touch label received international acclaim from critics in the jazz, classical and electronic fields in equal measure. At club transmediale, he and the Ethos String Quartett will perform the composition from his debut album, “Englaborn“.
Englaborn is Jóhann's first solo album (second solo aln´bums is "Virthulegu forsetar"). It is derived from music he wrote for an Icelandic play of the same name. For the cd release on Touch, the music was revised and restructured to make it stand as a work on its own and not simply function as a collection of cues. The music is written for string quartet, piano, organ, glockenspiel and percussion. These elements were processed and manipulated, adding delicate electronic backgrounds to the otherwise entirely acoustic recordings. One song, "Odi et Amo", is a setting of Catullus's famous poem. He says "This was a happy accident; I'd written the music and wanted a computerized counter-tenor vocal singing a Latin text and was looking through a collection of Latin poetry when I remembered this poem from college and it did fit the melody perfectly and was also thematically perfect for the play. It’s in the final scene. What I really like about it is the harsh contrast of the computer voice and the strings, the alchemy of total opposites, the sewing machine and umbrella on a dissecting table”.
Jóhannsson continues: "The plays is extremely violent and disturbing and basically when faced with the script I decided to work against it as much as possible and just try to write the most beautiful music I could. That approach seems to have worked, at any rate, the music got really good reviews, the leading drama critic calling it "the most beautiful I've heard in Icelandic theatre." I must say I’ve never had such a strong reaction to anything I’ve done before; strangers have actually stopped me in the street and hugged me because of it...! Bizarre.. It is gratifying though, because it’s probably the most personal thing I've done. This stuff is very very close to me."