Kristoffer Cornils and Thaddeus Herrmann have ambitious plans for the new series "Jóhann Jóhannsson - A User's Manual." Each major work by the Icelandic composer, who died in 2018, will get its own monthly review or roundtable. Twenty years after the initial release of his first solo release, "Englabörn," it's time to take a closer look at the work of the composer who made his mark on Hollywood's soundtrack industry during the last years of his career: project by project, album by album and track by track. Jóhannsson's music is one of the common musical denominators of Cornils and Herrmann. When something by him is playing, generational differences and musical backgrounds suddenly no longer play a role. Together they plunge into works that are as different as they are unifying. The motto is always: in loving memory. But the analysis, dissection and argumentative deconstruction of the albums also remain more important than ever.
On the third anniversary of Jóhannsson's death, the two begin their two-year journey through the composer's back catalogue at the very beginning: after making a name for himself regionally as a member of indie bands and collectives such as Ham, Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Ekta, Lhooq and the Apparat Organ Quartet, and as a co-founder of the collective Kitchen Motors, he debuted in 2001 as the composer of a theatre soundtrack that was subsequently reissued by the British institution Touch - and already hinted at what the Icelander would go on to accomplish throughout his career.
Thaddi: Fittingly for a debut, this album was released twice. First in 2001 in Iceland and in Iceland only: on CD-R. We still remember that medium, don't we?! Self-burned CDs for the quick and spontaneous circulation of ideas and tracks among friends. Or in this case - I'm guessing - for a precariously organised theatre production in downtown Reykjavík, where - again, I'm guessing - the aim was to sell some memorabilia to the visitors of the performances. This does not diminish the power of the composition. In 2001, Jóhann Jóhannsson was 32 years old - and laid the foundation for his career. He had previously played in several bands - and then joined the theatre. In the only interview I did with him, he said that back then he found his musical language. That applies to both "Englabörn" and "Virðulegu Forsetar," which came out in 2004. Why was that?