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Southern Theater Caps ‘08-’09 “Wordless Music” Series with Icelandic Master, New York Prodigy, Minneapolis Whiz Kid

While I can’t roll with the video’s depiction of Parsons, it’s hardly YouTube’s most stupidly sanctimonious.  Plus, it’s good to see him getting more attention, especially with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s predictably magnificent track framing it.

Given Minneapolis’s “most literate city” ranking, geological stability (*), resistance to tidal waves, and welcoming climate (compared to, say, Pluto or Hell), we’d have to consider ourselves lucky even if Ronen Givony hadn’t made us (via the Southern Theater) the second beneficiary of his consistently inspired Wordless Music series. Thanks to the impresario’s singular vision and the Southern’s hospitality, we’ve been growing steadily luckier ever since  Valgeir Sigurðsson and Nico Muhly booted the series here back in ’07.

From Jóhannsson’s third album, 2006’s “IBM 1401: A User’s Manual.”

Speaking of Muhly, June 30 finds viola prodigy Nadia Sirota returning to the Southern for the first time in nearly two months,  joining   Jóhann Jóhannsson for Wordless Music Minneapolis’s season closer and the Icelandic composer’s midwest debut.. The 40 year-old post-classicist’s unabashedly gorgeous constructs have gained considerable density and mass  since 2002’s Englabörn dropped on the perennially essential Touch (anti)label;  his aptitude for squeezing every last atom of color and expressiveness from the acoustic and electronic sounds he so adroitly marries has grown commensurately.

Jóhannsson channels the absolute sublime.

Now signed to 4AD, Jóhannsson is well on his way to becoming a household name in his native country,  thanks in part to 2008 Icelandic Music Awards winner Fordlandia. “Melodia ((Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim’s Quantum Theory) )” offers crazy insight into the composer’s  m.o. as he launches layer after diaphanous layer of melody over a fast-walking ostinato bassline. The track’s skeletal 3/4 breakbeat gains detail and urgency as the strings above it swell into glorious tumescence.  As with Muhly, Jóhannsson’s penchant for drawing from diverse periods and movements is rooted in the pursuit of numinousness rather than some rote postmodernist impulse to cram a buncha different stuff into your stuff.  And though the former skews a little more playful, the latter’s work is no less sensuous.

A smooth approximation of what we’ll get Tuesday night.

Regarding opener Tarlton, no tellin’ what he/they’ll do. Founder Brett Bullion’s been experimenting relentlessly since his days with turn-of-the-century, teen IDM sensations Tiki Obmar. When I shared a Parse bill with the restless mutli-instrumentalist a couple years ago, he played an entire set with just a pair of Korg Electribes. I’m guessing he’ll delve heavily into The Papa Theses, out on fellow Saint Olaf alum Ian Anderson’s Afternoon Records since March. But he’ll almost certainly unveil new stuff, too.

Tiki Obmar’s soundtrack for this video isn’t totally removed from Bullion’s current work.

(*)The rift surrounding Lake Superior poses far less danger to us than to Duluthians. All that water ever hits all that lava, they’ll get boiled like hot dogs,  in seconds.



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