On Sunday, September 15th, I was treated to a very spooky yet remarkable concert by one of the great architects of post-classical ambient music, Jóhann Jóhannsson.
This Icelandic composer and his string quartet played for roughly two hours at the Masonic Lodge located at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Needless to say, it is the perfect venue for his cinematic compositions. Jóhannsson has the ability to elegantly orchestrate pieces where post-classical and electronic music can coexist.
On stage, Jóhannsson quartered himself between a grand piano and laptop computer with a candlelit string quartet taking center. Known for performing in the most unique and intimate of spaces, the ensemble brilliantly played the acoustics of the room while a breathless audience silently absorbed it all.
After working on more than a dozen films, Jóhannsson makes his first step into a major film with the Warner Bros. release Prisoners, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The night began with the ensemble performing Jóhannsson’s score from this film. As expected, the music was dramatic and haunting.
Throughout the concert, I was incredibly moved by the violins. They alone controlled the various moods of the music; from precious and romantic in one moment to disturbing and melancholy in the next. All of this sonically expanded over visual projections, across our chairs, and up into the mezzanine.
This sold-out show was like a sanctified, minimalist journey of atmospheric landscapes and easily one of the most special performances to grace a Los Angeles stage. This is yet another reason to love this city.