by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
There are a couple of similarities between Johann Johannson and Deadmau5, two artists headed to the Emerald City this week for live performances. They both compose music and both rely heavily on instrumentation vs. lyrics. Besides this, they're very much from opposite worlds. And yet living in Seattle, where there's always something interesting to see and hear, you can experience the sounds of both men on consecutive evenings in the coming days.
NORDSTROM RECITAL HALL
When I'm not listening to pop divas and rock bands, I gravitate towards film scores. I find them soothing and conducive to getting work done. In recent years, the name Johann Johannsson has popped up considerably, most noticeably on the Oscar ballot. The Icelandish composer earned nominations for scoring The Theory of Everything and Sicario, and had it not been deemed ineligible due to strict rules by the Academy, Johannsson would very likely have received his third nomination, and possible win, for his work on last year's sci-fi thriller Arrival. But he'll have two more opportunities at next year's awards, having composed the soundtrack for a pair of upcoming theatrical releases, Darren Aronofsky's mother! and the much-anticipated Blade Runner 2049.
From beginning to end, the score for The Theory of Everything is lush, and having heard the music before even watching the movie, I got chills just listening to it and imagined how it would intertwine with the scenes from the film based on the life and career of famed physicist Stephen Hawking. Magically and brilliantly, each of the songs on Johannsson's score, like the standout numbers 'A Game of Croquet' and 'A Normal Family,' fit each scene of the motion picture like missing pieces of a puzzle. In Sicario, he manages to capture the grittiness and intensity of the drama, which centers on an FBI investigation and operation to dismantle a Mexican drug cartel leader. Composers have the task of setting the mood of the film, from joyful to tearful to fearful, and Johannsson is one of the best at doing so this very moment.
Besides scoring movies, the 47 year-old composer also collaborates with classical ensembles and fellow artists for live shows or albums, having released 10 solo recordings since 2002. If this wasn't enough, he's also written music for stage productions and television projects, such as the Icelandic TV series 'Trapped.' What he'll perform exactly at Benaroya Hall on Thursday evening is a mystery, and film composers have sometimes come to town and played entirely unfamiliar music than what fans want to hear - I recall an underwhelming performance by Yann Tierson (Amelie) at Neumos years ago - but here's hoping Johann Johannsson fills our ears with the sounds that put him on the map.
For tickets, go to seattlesymphony.org.
April 21 & 22
Internationally acclaimed, as well, is Deadmau5. The Canadian DJ and producer is a superstar on the EDM circuit, drawing thousands to his live shows that usually happen inside sports arenas, or in packed nightclubs, like his part-time residency at Hakkasan in Las Vegas. He's also a regular headliner at music festivals, from Ibiza to Miami to a recently announced appearance at Electric Zoo Festival in New York over Labor Day weekend.
Known not only for his cool progressive house music, which has earned him six Grammy nominations, but also for his large 'mau5head' that he wears during live appearances - concerts, interviews, award show red carpets, etc. Fans often purchase, or design their own headpiece, to wear to Deadmau5's shows.
W:/2016ALBUM/ is the newest collection of songs by the 36 year-old artist, his eighth studio album released in December 2016 featuring the singles 'Snowcone' and 'Let Go.' The record title is said to be a computer directory where he stored the music for the album before its release. But as a big fan of Deadmau5, I routinely find unreleased tracks, demo versions, or independent singles on the Internet that sometimes don't even appear on his albums, like 'HR 8938 Cephei', 'Contact' and a piece called 'Tune 4.3 from Livestream,' circa 2014, that I just got a hold of a few weeks ago. I'm just not satisfied with what's already out there, I want to keep digging and discovering new Deadmau5 music all the time. That futuristic, moody-landscaped electronic sound is infectious and a perfect mind escape, and having seen him in concert three times already it's safe to say that I'm hooked for life.
Deadmau5 always gives an electrifying performance that is both a fulfilling audio and visual experience, and it's rumored he'll be playing his songs inside a giant, colorful cube-shaped platform when he greets Seattle fans on back-to-back nights this week, as part of his brief nine-city 'Lots of Shows in a Row Tour.' I expect some of his bigger hits to make it onto the set list, including 'Ghosts n' Stuff,' 'Faxing Berlin,' 'Some Chords,' 'Strobe' and the aforementioned 'Snowcone,' but I'm crossing my fingers for my personal favorites. One thing is for sure, his concerts are high energy, so it will be an all-out party zone at WaMu Theater next weekend.
For tickets, visit aeglive.com.
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