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Jóhann Jóhannsson Breaks New Ground With Score for PRISONERS

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Related: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Prisoners
Jóhann Jóhannsson Breaks New Ground With  Score for PRISONERSComposer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Jóhann Jóhannsson is one of Iceland's most prolifically creative musicians.The BBC has called him "an intrepid musical enigma." This September, audiences will experience Jóhannsson's music both live in concert with select tour dates, and on the big screen with the release of Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve's ("Incendies") new film "Prisoners," starring Oscar nominees Hugh Jackman (LES MISERABLES) and Jake Gyllenhaal ("Brokeback Mountain"), Oscar winner Melissa Leo ("The Fighter"), Paul Dano, Maria Bello, and Oscar nominees Viola Davis ("The Help") and Terrence Howard ("Hustle & Flow"). Alcon Entertainment's "Prisoners" is scheduled for release by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 20, 2013.

Jóhannsson will bring his enthralling soundscapes to North America with tour dates in Toronto celebrating the September 6 world premiere of "Prisoners" at The Toronto International Film Festival. Jóhannsson will perform at The Music Gallery in Toronto (9/8), Le Possion Rouge in New York (9/10), Yoshi's in San Franscico (9/13) and The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles, presented by KCRW (9/15).

For "Prisoners," a gripping dramatic thriller about how far a father will go to protect his family, Jóhannsson took a unique approach to the score by blending an orchestra with a large string and woodwind section with two little known instruments, the Cristal Baschet and the Ondes Martenot. By blending those unfamiliar sounds with string instruments, Jóhannsson created music with a delicate, glassy surface, heightening the tension of the film.

"I wanted the music to be a poetic voice that worked in counterpoint to the action of the film," Jóhannsson says. "Even though the movie is a thriller, the music is lyrical and beautiful, in stark contrast to the intensity of the film depicts."

Jóhannsson's approach to film music is informed by influences as diverse as Swans, Steve Reich, Einstürzende Neubauten, Arvo Part, Eliane Radigue, Morton Feldman and Bernard Herrmann. His interest in modular synthesizers and ancient electronic instruments can be traced back to his upbringing in the suburbs of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. His father was the chief maintenance engineer for IBM and one of Iceland's first computer programmers. In his downtime, he'd compose melodies and sounds on the IBM 1401, a prehistoric computer. This ultimately inspired Jóhannsson's composition for the upcoming "IBM 1401- A User's Manual," an ambitious multimedia project in development with American filmmaker Bill Morrison.

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