Jóhann Jóhannsson – “Children of the New Dawn”

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With the passing of certain artists, the loss hits immediately and keenly, given their monolithic stature. In other cases, their death may receive less fanfare, but their absence will be increasingly felt over time. The later may be the situation with the late Icelandic musician and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who died at the age of 48 back in February of this year.

Jóhann Jóhannsson – photo by Sachyn Mital (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Although Jóhannsson began his music career playing in indie-rock bands in the late ‘80s, he started experimenting with ambient synthesizer sounds and began releasing his own albums in the new millennium. His distinctive work led to a series of acclaimed soundtrack recordings, including a number of films with director Denis Villeneuve (including Sicario and Arrival), as well as the Oscar-winning film, The Theory of Everything, for which Jóhannsson was nominated for Best Original Score.

In one of his final works, Johannsson composed the score for the highly-anticipated film, Mandy, and a single from that soundtrack has just been released, “Children of the New Dawn.” Our own Jason Bentley has been playing the track and finds it to be a compelling part of Jóhannsson’s legacy, as he writes:

“It’s a beautiful example of his rare gift, weaving traditional instruments with a drone-like electronic atmosphere. Most will know his award-winning Hollywood film scores, but his background is in avant-garde rock and orchestral music, and those influences are at the fore of this brooding coda. The product of a genius of our time, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s albums Fordlandia and IBM 1401: A Users Manual are also highly recommended.”

“Children of the New Dawn” is available for download now; Mandy opens 9/14.