Over Johann Johannsson
Iceland's Johann Johannsson bridges the worlds of contemporary classical composition and electronic music, and like so many of his countrymen, he seems to be everywhere at once. His Kitchen Motors project -- described as "a think tank, a record label, and an art organization" dedicated to erasing the lines between "forms, genres and disciplines" -- has served as a platform for avant-gardists like the Hafler Trio, Mum, Stilluppsteypa, Barry Adamson vs. Pan Sonic and Johannsson's own Apparat Organ Quartet, and his own work has been appropriately rigorous. His breakout album, 2006's IBM 1401, A User's Manual, was based on 1964 reel-to-reel recordings made by his father, of the first computer to arrive in Iceland. His earlier recordings for Touch were less overtly conceptual, testing the limits of his compositional style in sketches and more expansive pieces for shifting ensembles of acoustic and electronic instruments. In 2008, his album Fordlandia--another investigation of American brands abroad, referencing the automaker's failed Brazilian rubber plant -- expanded his vision for a full, thrumming orchestra, to powerful effect.