Jóhann Jóhannsson

The End of Summer

The End of Summer, shot on black and white Super 8 film, is a glacial journey destined for the precipice of an icy world. It slow burns over and across the island of South Georgia and the wider Antarctic Peninsula and is a series of mostly static tableaux filmed over a 20 day period during the waning, faintest days of the Antarctic summer.

Accompanied by Hildur Guðnadóttir and Robert A. Lowe, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s The End of Summer isn’t an August record. With the darker, rough and grainy edges of the cello digging into the harder clumps of snow, the record is slow to get moving, trying desperately to take one more step. Well-suited to the sharp contrast of black and white cinematography, The End of Summer is shrouded in white air. In front of icy monoliths, birds glide past. Surrounding the island is the infinite grey of the sea, splitting the water from the white.

Untouched beauty stretches out her warmer, gloved hands in an attempt to thwart the increasingly real threat of the raw, sub-zero wind. Out here, reclusive melodies are still able to survive, flourishing on their own isolation. As the ambient notes progress, they help to gradually warm the music’s chilled heart. In the center, a couple of close notes bleed into one another; just two. Out here, there’s nothing else; the music has the capacity to be both stark and beautiful, like deep snow in January. There’s a voice out there, singing to you, lost in the white covering. The voice is slowly layered; lower and higher registers united in harmony.

The mood-swinging cello is like a thick shipwreck of ice. But even this eventually melts, giving way to an electronic sound somehow darker and colder than the cello, like a midnight sun that refuses to share its warmth. Apart from that, all is white.

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