It comes right from the belly

DOK:REVUE: In this personal essay, a Danish sound designer Peter Albrechtsen remembers one of the world's greatest and most unique modern film composers, Jóhann Jóhannsson. This article was written in 2018, shortly after Jóhannsson´s death, but has never been published.

When Johánn died in February 2018, I lost a friend and a close collaborator for almost 10 years. I worked as sound designer or mixer with Jóhann on four movies and we had three projects lined up for the future. This article was actually originally going to be an interview, and just a few days before his death we were in touch about organizing our talk. It would have been a nice way of going back to the first time I met Jóhann in Copenhagen in 2009. I had been asked to do an interview with him for a Danish magazine, as I was, in fact, a music journalist before I became a sound designer.

The interview with Jóhann was the very first time I met him and I remember vividly that we were supposed to talk for 30 minutes and ended up talking for more than two hours about movies, about music, about art. Jóhann was very passionate about all these things and even though he was generally a more quiet, thoughtful person, he was very talkative when you got him started discussing one of his favorite subjects. He was a generous man and had lots of stories, ideas, and experiences to share.

Jóhann told me that his deep fascination with film music started with 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. Or more specifically: with the almost 10 minutes long psychedelic sequence towards the end of the film where fluttering colours and abstract landscapes are constantly moving through the frame, while our ears are submerged in the abstract tones from the Hungarian avant-garde composer György Ligeti. A bombardme …

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Dok.revue is dedicated to criticism and theory of documentary film. It is primarily focused on Czech and Slovak documentary cinema. In its reflection of documentaries, dok.revue promotes an aesthetic point of view while not ignoring social and historical context of filmmaking practice and cinema institution.

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