Sun's Gone Dim
February 10, 2018 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Icelandic composer of scores for Arrival, Theory of Everything, and Sicario, along with a rich catalog of work, has unexpectedly died at age 48. Sun's Gone Dim, Flight from the City
posted by pashdown (47 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:28 PM on February 10

This hit hard today.


The snippet of his music inside Reykjvic cathedral and brief interview on Screaming Masterpiece was my unexpectedly lifechanging gateway into Nordic culture. The fuller Odi et Amo piece.
posted by Wordshore at 3:47 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]

posted by schmod at 3:47 PM on February 10

posted by dubitable at 3:55 PM on February 10

posted by drezdn at 4:04 PM on February 10


If you zoom in on my dot, it's a complex, circular alien logogram standing for respect, shock, and melancholy. Loved his soundtracks.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:18 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]

Oh no! Ah, fuck. He’s one of my favorite contemporary composers. He will be so missed.

posted by not_the_water at 4:18 PM on February 10

So young. I've been binging on his music today when I heard the news and Virðulegu Forsetar has struck me so far. 2017 felt like a raw deal for him as he had his music whittled away from 2 films (Blade Runner 2049 and Mother!) so this year was looking promising for new music since he was tied to 4 other scores.

posted by myopicman at 4:32 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

This really sucks. I was first show exposed to his music through the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles. The movie stank but the trailer was amazing due to his music.
posted by KaizenSoze at 4:38 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Man. That's such a shame. To have such musical talent so fully realized, with so much still left to do. He's irreplaceable, and modern classical music is in a sorrier state with his absence.
posted by Philipschall at 4:39 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

I’ve been listening to him since IBM 1401, and have seen him perform twice in Seattle. I’m really sad about this.
posted by matildaben at 4:50 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Too young and too talented. :(
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:00 PM on February 10

posted by danhon at 5:14 PM on February 10

posted by njohnson23 at 5:36 PM on February 10

posted by nangar at 5:45 PM on February 10

Although I'm sure he will remain best known for his soundtracks, I hope people discover his astonishing earlier albums on 4AD, especially IBM 1401, A User's Manual, and Fordlandia, which are magnificent and enormous and cosmically melancholy. I was lucky enough to see him perform at the Barbican a couple of christmasses ago (the day of the office party, so I was a bit intoxicated even going in) and it was one of very few shows of that kind I've seen that paid attention to the spectacle of the event. For a classical gig it was remarkably like going to see Pink Floyd. In a good way.
posted by Grangousier at 5:46 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]

Dammit - way too young. What a legacy he leaves behind.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:48 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting. And thanks Johann.
posted by kneecapped at 5:49 PM on February 10

I started my first proper job after university fifteen years today. I'd moved to a new city and spent most evenings the first month listening to the radio in my lodgings. I remember scribbling Jóhannsson's name down after hearing one of his pieces on Radio 3. Englabörn was the soundtrack of my 2003.
posted by popcassady at 6:25 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

posted by gwint at 6:32 PM on February 10

Now is a good time as any to delve into his earlier pop days. Apparat Organ Quartet was aptly named, four dudes with electric organs and synths plus a drummer. Stereo Rock n' Roll was probably my favorite track from that band, although there's many to chose from. When I was a teenager I really liked his Lhooq trip-hop project, the standout track was Losing Hand.

His legacy in the Icelandic music scene is immeasurable. He did so much, for so many. From co-founding Tilraunaeldhúsið, or Kitchen Motors, to sharing his spotlight with fellow Icelandic musicians whenever he could, from afar he seemed like a particularly special person. Strange days.
posted by svenni at 6:37 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

posted by the sobsister at 7:16 PM on February 10

posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 8:24 PM on February 10

I had the pleasure of working (somewhat indirectly) with him back in 2010, when he was not yet so famous. He scored a film I was postproduction supervisor on, and although my direct interaction with him was limited to a few emails and a phone call to coordinate music deliveries, he was pleasant and professional, and his work, even for a small Mexican independent movie, was impeccable, without a doubt one of the best things about the movie.

I kept track of him since, and when he started getting (deservedly) famous, was nominated for the Academy Awards, etc., it was always one of those little pride by association things, pride in having had the chance to work on the same project as someone so talented, and happiness that his talent was being recognized by the world.

I'll miss knowing there will be new Jóhann Jóhannsson scored films coming out.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:33 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Damn. One of my favourite composers.
posted by greenhornet at 9:22 PM on February 10


This is very sad news. Thank you for the music, Jóhann.
posted by sapagan at 10:29 PM on February 10


Twenty or so years ago I worked in a bookstore that Jóhann Jóhannsson frequented. He was certainly not one of those customers who'd take up position at the register and chat relentlessly, but we would talk sometimes about books. At the time I mostly read science fiction and we shared a fondness for the stranger end of the genre. We remained nodding acquaintances and had maybe two or three conversations through the years, usually when we'd be in the same bookstore. It's been exciting to follow his amazing career and it's strange to think that it’s come to such a sudden end. His music has meant a lot to me through the years, and just yesterday I was humming his Odi et amo to myself. What a wonderful composer.
posted by Kattullus at 11:20 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]

posted by spheniscus at 12:50 AM on February 11


I consider myself lucky to have seen him perform live a couple years ago. One of my few regrets in life is not being bold enough to go up to him after the show to shake his hand and thank him for enriching my life with his amazing work.
posted by urbanphoenix at 2:51 AM on February 11


Crud. I first learned his name literally last week, from the credits of Arrival and Sicario, and was (briefly) excited to spot his name in a MetaFilter FPP. I’m all for the Baader-Meinhof effect, but not when it works like this.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 5:00 AM on February 11


His music is sublime. I am especially fond of Orphee. So sad he died so young and with so much music still in him.
posted by pjsky at 5:06 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


My personal favourite of his projects was Apparat Organ Quartet. I once saw the last song of their set, when they opened at the first ATP Iceland and a cockup in bus scheduling meant that the buses were an hour later than the set times. The song, and the end of the previous song, were so good that it made having missed the rest of the set worse. And now that there will never be another one, even more so.
posted by acb at 5:40 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

posted by filtergik at 5:55 AM on February 11

I've loved IBM 1401 since I learned about it here on MeFi.

I was so disappointed when we didn't get to hear his score for Blade Runner 2049.

posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:23 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Far too young.

posted by dbiedny at 6:43 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Before today, I didn't really know who he was...except that I watched Sicario a couple of weeks ago and was really impressed by the soundtrack and how important it was to the impact of the movie and was noticing its similarity to Arrival's soundtrack. Those long shot, far distant horn blasts echoed in my head for days. I never realized until now that he was a composer.

Looks like there is some musical exploration in my future.
posted by kaymac at 7:08 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

posted by arcticseal at 9:09 AM on February 11

48! That's terrible.
posted by doctornemo at 11:20 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Warren Ellis just recommended The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World.
posted by doctornemo at 1:11 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

What?! He was one of my favorite composers, and IBM 1401 is one of the most powerful albums I’ve ever heard, it literally makes me cry every time. This is so terrible, I can hardly believe it.
posted by gucci mane at 5:12 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

The wonderful thing about great composers is that their works can speak to us after weeks, or centuries, in a language which needs no translation - so long as they are given voice (as they almost always are) by people who are often as fond of them as we are.

Better still, the great composers very often have things to say which we badly need to hear.
posted by Twang at 5:20 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:36 PM on February 11

I had the privilege of seeing him perform live in Denver a few years ago for a performance of The Miners' Hymns. It was such a powerful work, and it was incredible to see it in person. This is a real loss for the world.

posted by fremen at 7:23 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Warren Ellis and doctornemo are right to recommend The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World. It's just fantastic.
posted by great_radio at 10:25 PM on February 11

Katullus, could you maybe share what some of his favorites were? Adding them to my reading list (and reading them with his music as background) seems like a fitting, if small, tribute.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:17 PM on February 15

Well, it's been a long time and I honestly can't remember. I remember talking with him about this Alfred Bester short story collection which I was reading at the time, but I don't know if he had read Bester or was asking me what I thought of him. I'd be surprised if he hadn't read Bester, he loved Philip K. Dick, and it seems to me you'd get to Bester from PKD pretty quickly. Sorry that I can't be more helpful!
posted by Kattullus at 1:27 PM on February 15

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