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Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim's Quant

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Johann Johannsson: Ambience In Action

Johann Johannsson: Ambience In Action

Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim's Quant

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Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim's Quantum Theory)"
  • Artist: Johann Johannsson
  • CD: Fordlandia
  • Genre: Ambient/Classical

Johann Johannsson's "Melodia" slowly transforms itself into an absorbing, head-clearing instrumental epic. courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist

Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson makes propulsive and powerful music using unlikely sources and unlikely means: Before releasing last fall's lovely Fordlandia, he'd achieved notoriety for IBM 1401, A User's Manual, in which he paired ambient classical soundscapes with field recordings of archaic computers in action. (Click here to hear Johannsson's self-explanatorily titled "Part II - IBM 1403 Printer.")

On Fordlandia, Johannsson crafts somewhat more conventional orchestral works, though he still lets nervously twitching computerized beats be his guide. Listeners will need to employ a bit of imagination to match Johannsson's composition to the title "Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim's Quantum Theory)," but it's hard to deny the propulsion at work here. It takes a few minutes for the song to register as more than a faint stirring of strings, but as it progresses, it gathers portentous energy almost subconsciously.

By the time the song has begun to approach the seven-minute mark, "Melodia" has transformed itself into a wholly absorbing, head-clearing instrumental epic — the kind that induces trance-like bouts of concentration on long drives and in late-night stretches of near-catatonic relaxation. With music this hypnotic, who needs drugs?

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Fordlandia

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Album
Fordlandia
Artist
Jóhann Jóhannsson
Label
4AD
Released
2008

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