Jóhann Jóhannsson: End of Summer OST (Sonic Pieces)

Highly venerated Oscar nominated film composer returns with the sublime score for his debut short feature

Released Jan 4th, 2016 via Sonic Pieces / By Norman Miller
Jóhann Jóhannsson: End of Summer OST (Sonic Pieces) What better way to cope with the dark and gloom of midwinter than a film entitled End Of Summer? But don't seek it out in the expectation of a reminder of twinkly blue seas and golden sands. This hypnotic, slow-burn beauty – a description that applies both to the 28-minute film and Johann Johannsson's soundtrack - focuses on the austere landscapes of the island of South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula, where icebergs gather year-round.

It's a stunning fusion of sound and image that marks Johannsson's first foray into film direction. The Icelandic composer proves as visually savvy as he is musically, mixing beautifully-framed tableaux with slow pans that meld perfectly with the flow of sound. The decision to shoot very slow speed B/W super 8 film, meanwhile, provides lustrous contrasty tonal images that again fit perfectly with the soundtrack.

There's no narration. Instead, Jóhannsson uses field recordings from a 20-day voyage to this fragile, eerily-beautiful region to intersperse four aurally-distinctive soundtrack sections simply entitled End Of Summer 1-4.

Dark electronic washes from both Johannsson and Robert A.A. Lowe (aka Lichens) dominate the first section, whose edgy core is like a sawtooth gleaming in soft wood. The melancholic strings of cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir are foregrounded in part 2, while Johannsson's trademark eerie vocal creations mark parts 3 and 4 – tending to dischordant keening in the former, with achingly mournful soft whispers in a final section full of stunning iceberg images.

It's deeply beautiful to watch and listen, promoting both peacefulness and a reflection on the fragile beauty of a harsh landscape. Its tonal stillness captures the frigidity of the air of this world so well that I wasn't sure if I shivered because of the beauty of the sound or imagined goosebumps on my skin.

The UK premiere of End of Summer takes place at the London Short Film Festival, The ICA, London, 10th January 2016