Saturday, 10 February 2018

RIP Jóhann Jóhannsson

In surprising news, it has been confirmed that Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has passed away at the age of 47. No cause of death has been given.

Jóhannsson had been releasing solo albums since 2002, but had come to recent, widespread attention for his work in film scores, in particular his collaborations with Denise Villeneuve. He provided the moody, minimalist scores for Villeneuve's films Prisoners, Sicario and, most memorably, Arrival. He also provided the score for The Theory of Everything. He won a Golden Globe for Everything and a World Soundtrack Award for Arrival.

He'd recently made headlines when his complete or partially-complete scores for Blade Runner 2049 and mother! were not used. Hans Zimmer replaced Jóhannsson on Blade Runner 2049, somewhat bafflingly proceeding to produce a very Jóhannsson-like final score. The changeover on mother! was more amicable, as Jóhannsson himself felt that the score he'd produced interfered with the movie's atmosphere; after consulting with director Darren Aronofsky, they decided to drop the score almost completely, instead using only distant echoes of it melded into the film's sound design. Jóhannsson instead accepted a sound design credit on the film.

Jóhannsson had completed three additional scores before his passing: Mandy, The Mercy (released just last week) and Mary Magdalene, due out at the end of this month.

Jóhannsson's passing is sad news, especially as such a young age. His music was inventive, haunting, devastatingly emotional and immediately recognisable. His work on Arrival was utterly sublime. He will be missed.

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