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Philadelphia Space Music: Johann Johanson Performance 27 June

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Tonight/This morning’s radio show on XPN of Chuck van Zyl’s Star’s End featured some music by Jóhann Jóhanson. I have to admit I was not familiar with Jóhanson, and that has been my loss. This guy can put down such “Jell-O®” music. It’s liquid when he plays it and it gels as it settles around you. Soon the entire audience is connected by this sea of gelatinous … Cherry? I think so. Cherry! The best forbidden fruit.

We’re all connected. You’ve seen The Wave? Think of The Wave With Jell-O®! A sea of Jell-O® Waves. That’s what I felt like when his piece finished. Now, how did Jóhanson’s music do this to me, and, I assume, to his entire listening audience? Absolutely.

That was the good news. Now the even better news.

Jóhann Jóhanson is appearing at the next meeting of The Gatherings in St Mary’s Hamilton Village Church in Philadelphia. This meeting will take place on Saturday, 27 June 2009. Doors 7:30 pm. Performance at 8:00 pm.

Appearing with Jóhanson is Lichens, who has two CDs out on the Kranky label. Lichens is the creation of Robert Lowe, who has performed solo and in duos in New York and Chicago. But Lichens’ live performance is a sight to behold, as the touts used to tell us, “looping wordless vocals into curtains of drone,” as van Zyl said. Add in guitars, acoustic and electric, percussion “and other effects to create alternately thick and delicate works.” This performance will be Lichens’ Philadelphia concert debut.

The headliner, Jóhann Jóhanson, is best described as a symphony concert. Or as van Zyl says, “Unfolding in time, the music plays heights off of depths and lament against affirmation – all blending into one moment. There is no way to escape the power and desperate beauty of this music. With the harmonic motion of Angelo Badalamenti, the celestial reach of Joep Franssens and the pathos of Arvo Pärt, Fordlandia is always on the verge of breaking into poetry.”

This performance of 27 June will assuredly be one of the jewels in this season’s crown.

For directions, tickets, information, check The Gatherings website.

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