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Virthulegu Forsetar

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This is the second album for Touch from Iceland's Jóhann Jóhannsson, originally released in 2004 -- now available on vinyl. Virthulegu Forsetar contains one hour-long piece for 11 brass players, percussion, electronics, organs and piano. The piece had its live debut in Hallgrimskirkja, a large church in Reykjavik and the city's towering edifice, and was named "the most memorable musical event of 2003" in Iceland's leading newspaper. The piece has Englabörn's quiet, elegiac beauty, but abandons the brevity of the first album's exquisite miniatures in favor of an extended form that reveals a long, slow process. A simple theme played by the brass section is repeated throughout the entire piece using different voicings and instrumentation. As the piece goes on, the tempo slows down, until it is extremely slow. Around the middle of the piece, the tempo starts to speed up again, until it reaches the original tempo. Space and the sense of place were very important in the performance and recording of the piece. Players were positioned both in front and at the back of the church and two organs were used, again, one in front and one at the back. This created a sense of immersion and a sound that is powerful without ever being "loud." Johann writes: " I had a number of things going through my mind during the writing of the piece, some of them being an obsession with entropy, Pynchon's The Crying Of Lot 49, postal horns, cybernetics, small birds, heat, space, energy, 'singularities,' Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence, Moebius strips. I'm absolutely not interested in imposing any one 'meaning' on the piece, but all these things were flying around somewhere in my head. A casual listener might categorize the piece as ambient or meditative, but I think this is really wrong -- for me, it's much more about chaos and tension rather than harmony." Virthulegu Forsetar is performed by The Caput Ensemble, conducted by Guðni Franzson, with Skúli Sverrisson on bass and electronics, Matthias M.D. Hemstock on bells, glockenspiel and electronics, Hörður Bragason and Guðmundur Sigurðsson on organs and Jóhann Jóhannsson on piano and electronics.