OK (Old) Computer

First, a confession: The last couple of excellent live orchestral experiences we’ve had were nowhere near symphony orchestra halls. They were at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall — Radiohead and Sigur Rós concerts, respectively.

The composer-musician Jóhann Jóhannsson has a lot in common with those two bands — kinship that’s apparent on his upcoming CD, IBM 1401, A User’s Manual (out 10/24).

Like Radiohead and fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós, he shifts between eerie quietude and quasi-orgasmic, synth-and-string-driven walls of sounds. (BTW, can someone explain Iceland? Why does a country smaller than Wichita produce half the lush, enveloping soundscapes being recorded today?)

And like Radiohead, Jóhannsson is a tech fetishist. His father tended an early mainframe, the IBM 1401; snippets of its “voice” made their way onto this CD.

IBM has been a concert-hall hit across Europe (in yet another link to Radiohead, it’s been staged theatrically; see the photo above). Now that Jóhannsson’s on goth-rock label 4AD (Cocteau Twins, etc.), he’s due to gain a whole new audience. Including plenty of us who seldom haunt orchestra halls.

“>LISTEN to MP3 samples from IBM 1401, A User’s Manual (click on the song titles)

“>BUY Jóhann Jóhannsson’s IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

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OK (Old) Computer