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Fordlandia Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 4 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B001D45BSI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
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Product Description

Johann Johannsson is an Icelandic composer whose stately, slow-building and hauntingly melodic music has been quietly bewitching listeners for the last few years. His 2008 album Fordlandia weaves threads of thoughts together taking the the images of several subjects from an American magnate builds a doomed utopia in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest, a Victorian poetess laments the death of Pan, a pagan rocket scientist blows himself up in his Californian garage and a crippled German physicist draws up the equations which can make faster than light travel possible, unseen by the rest of the world. J¢hann draws these tantalising threads together, weaving a musical tapestry of hypnotic richness.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ce5de04) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9caf8948) out of 5 stars EVEN AS METAPHOR Dec 31 2008
By Hank Napkin - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jóhannsson has emerged as a leading voice in new classical work. His remarkable Virdulegu forsetar set about establishing new form capable of reconciling orchestral and electronic constructs. Fordlandia follows the equally stunning ibm 1401, a user's manual, as the second installment in Jóhannsson's proposed trilogy of technocratic and autocratic American business icons - a fact that lets one ponder the good and generally bad impacts of technology on culture as both Henry Ford's Fordlandia rubber plantation and the mass production of the internal combustion engine ably demonstrate. Running contrary to the mastering trend of Maximum Volume At All Times, Jóhannsson's final mix and presentation is careful to preserve dynamic range, with many passages seemingly seeking the absolute lower threshold of hearing, not unlike Tavener's The Last Sleep of the Virgin about which the composer urged listeners to "play at a barely audible level". With an invocation from Browning ("and, that dismal cry rose slowly and sank slowly...") the music of Fordlandia is again elegiac, and beautiful in its sustained, shifting and detailed articulations of mourning, of failure, of escape, while never becoming monolithic in mood or two-dimensional in invention. Achieving a persistent sense of delicacy amid such profound compositional power is becoming a reliable trait of Jóhannsson's work, and no other composer with a similar ability comes to mind. As for the themes driving the narrative itself, Jóhannsson introduces a broad number of elements not directly related to the ethical, economic and cultural collapse that was Fordlandia, but perhaps more intuitively important to the comprehension of the firsthand experience of unbridled capitalistic hubris and greed - a timely topic indeed. But, to this listener, the narrative remains a secondary issue. If it serves as a necessary foundation or starting point for the way in which Jóhannsson approaches his work, you'll get no argument from me. In the end, the music tells its own moving and memorable tale.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ceaf9cc) out of 5 stars Headphone Commute Review Dec 25 2008
By Headphone Commute - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A few years ago, when I was regularly creating mixes for a podcast, an idea came across to compile music for my funeral. One thing I am sure about - I will die. And when I pass on, music will be filling in the void that was once my presence. How touching. Why shouldn't I be the one to select the pieces that would make others weep? Yes, I'll admit, I can be self centered like that. For my opening track, I turned to Jóhann Jóhannsson, and his Odi Et Amo from Englabörn (4AD, 2007). Now, with the release of Fordlandia, I may need to compile a second volume. On second thought, just play the whole album! But don't get me wrong. I don't want to come across saying that Jóhannsson's compositions are full of funeral sound [perhaps that should be a genre in itself?]. Yet, this Icelandic-born modern classical musician composes some of the most beautiful and soul drenching works that I have ever heard. The saturation of emotion approaches even my limits, and my eyes swell up with tears, as the concrete humanity gets cleansed in the rain, out in the windows of my crawling train. This is Jóhannsson's sixth full length album. Besides these contemporary classical conceptual pieces, Jóhannsson produced about a dozen of soundtracks for [mostly] Icelandic films, shorts and documentaries. There are also his theatrical works, arrangements for many artists, and music for installations. It would be an understatement to say that Jóhann Jóhannsson is a prominent figure in Icelandic contemporary artistic community. After all, he's one of the co-founders (along with Kira Kira and Hilmar Jensson) behind Kitchen Motors, "a think tank, a record label, and an art collective specializing in instigating collaborations and putting on concerts, exhibitions, performances, chamber operas, producing films, books and radio shows based on the ideals of experimentation, collaboration, the search for new art forms and the breaking down of barriers between forms, genres and disciplines." Thematically, Fordlandia continues the exploration of technology where Jóhannsson's last conceptual album, IBM 1401, a User's Manual (4AD, 2006) left off. Jóhannsson elaborates: "one of the two main threads running through [Fordlandia] is this idea of failed utopia, as represented by the [its] title - the story of the rubber plantation Henry Ford established in the Amazon in the 1920's, and his dreams of creating an idealized American town in the middle of the jungle complete with white picket fences, hamburgers and alcohol prohibition." For a detailed insight into creation of the album, including a commentary on each individual track (!!!), you absolutely must visit Jóhannsson's web site. Fordlandia thus becomes a second installment in a series of works documenting human hunger for ideals, technological progress, doomed failures, and the beauty of nature reclaiming itself. Such it is still, music for the born and the departed. Highly recommended! Undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2008.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ca28bac) out of 5 stars It's been said in more detail in other reviews, but.. Aug. 20 2009
By Jeremy M - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This album is just insanely gorgeous. Layered, melancholy, slow. Let it wash over you.

Perfect headphone or loud system listening.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc920cc) out of 5 stars Beautiful July 9 2009
By Greg Kinne - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If I were to compile my list of albums of the year, `Fordlandia' would certainly be in the top five no questions about it. The follow up to Johann Johannsson's epic `IBM 1401, A User's Manual' easily surpasses it and successfully creates a seminal masterpiece which will surely be emulated from generation to generation. `Fordlandia' is a spellbinding listen, which follows several doomed story lines. In these tales, the central arc revolves around Henry Ford as he builds a doomed utopia in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest. It also reflects upon a Victorian poetess who laments the death of Pan. A pagan rocket scientist blows himself up in his garage, and a crippled German physicist draws up the equations to light speed travel. Johannsson has also stated that the various themes are loose and are subject to personal interpretation.

Opener "Fordlandia" focuses on Henry Ford and is the reference to the failed rubber plantation that he established in the Amazon in the 1920's. This project was to be Ford's perfect utopia although he did not calculate the risks that he would endure while pursuing. This sweeping track features a 50-piece string orchestra along with a lovely pipe organ and low frequency guitars. "Fordlandia" builds and sprawls throughout combining electronic beats throughout until it reaches its noisy climax.

"Melodia on track 2 & 4" are signposts back toward the main melody of the album and feature a moody clarinet. "Melodia 1" offers an air of mystery about it providing the segue between "Fordlandia" and "The Rocket Builder." The background behind this song is the biography of John Whiteside Parsons: a self-taught scientist who invented the first truly successful rocket fuel.

Parsons was a disciple of Aleister Crowley and the occult. He would often chant pagan sayings while watching rockets launch. Parsons was often at odds with those who worked around him, and died of mysterious circumstances caused by an explosion in his garage. On the track, Johannsson combines electronics with an orchestra ensemble to a stunning effect in this elegiac piece. Johannsson's music effectively conveys the act of discovery followed by feelings of dread

"Fordlandia - Aerial View" takes the listener back on a plane to Brazil. One can picture this single failed outpost in the rainforest as you see it from the air. The isolated strings that resonate throughout the song hint at the grandeur of this undertaking but also illuminate the loss of this endeavor. Johannsson mentions in the liner notes that he recorded this piece in a church in Reykjavik with no edits. "Melodia 3" was inspired by seeing Sunn 0))) play and Johannsson tried to emulate the low multitracked guitars favored by them.

The album builds to a climax on "The Great God Pan Is Dead" which is the first track to feature chorale vocals. Johannsson notes that the sung text comes from a 19th century poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The song conjures the turbulent mood of the lament heightened by the rain effects and otherworldly vocals. There seems to be a bit of social commentary in this song as well, as it examines the mass production techniques of Henry Ford and the disposable economy that is still favored to this day.

"Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device based on Heim's Quantum Theory) was named after an actual research paper. The back-story focuses on Burkhard Heim, a German who devised the theory of faster than light speed space travel. Heim dedicated most of his life to this theory although he was handicapped in World War II. Heim was left with a serious disability, he had no hands, was deaf and blind. This piece provides a little bit of warmth and hope on the album. The track features mostly bittersweet strings mixed with percolating electronic percussion building to a satisfying resolution.

"How We Left Fordlandia" is the epic resolution to this fine album. This vast and mournful song ties all the story threads together and bids goodbye to the troubled utopias. While listening to "How We Left Fordlandia" it is hard not to picture the vistas and peaks as they dissolve from the widescreen.

Highest Recommendation!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc8a7bc) out of 5 stars Melancholic Gorgeosity Dec 2 2011
By A. Thomas - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I stumbled across The Sun's Gone Dim And The Sky's Turned Black and, intrigued, decided to look more into the artist, Johann Johannsson. Checking samples, I decided to purchase "Fordlandia."

Having listened to the album several times now, I can say that it's a very moving listening experience. The lush strings paint broad vistas, and the slow tempos and cyclical structures wash over you in bittersweet tonalities that imply the themes of failure, loss, and abandonment inherent to the titular setting. The overall impression is of wandering alone among a vast ruin.

The mood that is created is very precise. If the music were more complex, it would ruin the effect. Johannsson has really struck a perfect balance here. I'd be hard pressed to think of music more appropriate for introspection or winding down. It's simply beautiful.

All that you really need to know is that the experience of listening borders on the transcendent and isn't to be missed. Very highly recommended.