Opening like a tomb that has long been sealed, The Miners’ Hymns places a torch in your hand and sets your feet walking down into the darkness of the mysterious and unmapped tunnels of the labourers beneath the earth; a soundscape telling of secret, dangerous and beautiful places: historic great caverns that expand beyond the walls of your room. Jóhannsson has created something that you experience wholly; a master work, inspired by the miners of North East England.
Jóhannsson is Nordic, like many of the greatest currently-active musicians on the UK scene: Robyn, Miike Snow, The Caesars, The Tallest Man On Earth, Björk, to name but a few. But unlike the others, he’s not the type of artist that you would expect to release a chart topping single; more likely an avant-garde concept album, wonderfully crafted and sumptuously produced. The Miners’ Hymns delivers exactly that.
At some point during your relationship with Jóhannsson, you want to climb inside his head, and switch on some lights. Musicians not aiming for the easy-sell hit single have a small niche in the industry and it’s a shame. But he’s no fool – anything but. He’s given lectures across Europe in the creative use of sound in art and film, and co-founded Kitchen Motors to act as an artistic think tank, record label and promotion company, now renowned for initiating exciting new artistic collaborations, supporting experimentalism, and attempting to search for entirely new art forms. He’s a passionate artist with true integrity, and it certainly comes across.
The album concludes with the proud and heart raising march entitled ‘The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World‘, the most prominent message of an album which exquisitely tells the tale of a world underground; a world that has shouldered much of the burden of the developing world, and a world that most of us know nothing of.