Orphée – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Orphée washes over me in a good way. It doesn’t really matter that I have absolutely no comprehension of what Jóhann is trying to subject me to, it’s a bloody orgasm to the ears to hear something so epic and profound without it being attached to some film, i.e. Think Interstellar.
Orphée explores Ovid’s interpretation of the Orpheus myth. I read it a very long time ago in some book from God knows where in the back of our bookshelf at home, describing how Orpheus loses his lover in the underworld. It’s pretty miserable stuff and this album languishes in that misery, in a great way! I’ll call it Neo-classical since there’s no other fitting category that comes to mind at the moment. You’ve got strings, piano, soaring violin solos and the odd experimentation that sound on so Icelandic.

The Burning Mountain is a favourite for me. That organ and those strings! It feels like a classical version of hell; with the demons and angels all naked and shit on some painting that looks marvellous on some ceiling somewhere. I guess this is where the descent to hell progresses.

Good Morning Midnight is where Jóhann experiments with weird soundscapes I don’t care much for. He works best with minimalism and conjuring up melecholia in the same vein as his Icelandic counterpart Olafur Arnalds. The latter part of this song shines with its me, myself and I piano dirge. Can I cry yet? Good Night Day is the partner to the former and feels part of The Village Soundtrack. The soaring violin is ticking creepy and mournful and just exudes crushing despair. Fuck, is this where Orpheus looks back and finds his lover was following him out of Hell? She disappears into thin air with a shock and is lost to the underworld forever. Poor Phesperone, next time don’t eat those goddamn seeds.

Lets get to the best part: Orphic Hymn. Like okay wtf, has a king of England died? Or my grandmother? This shit is next level and I cant; it’s like Peter Jackson Elves singing about death, except being really rustic. It’s one of the best on the album.

Conclusion: What a find! This guy should have won something for his work on Arrival. This is otherworldly in another sense; it makes me feel like he’s written an epic in music form about some unsung hero who fucked up royally.


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