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The previously unrecorded Drone Mass was described by its composer, the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, as “a contemporary oratorio”. Written for voices, string quartet and electronics, it was commissioned and premiered by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, aka ACME, who toured and recorded with Jóhannsson for almost ten years. Now they have made the world premiere recording of this richly atmospheric work, in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier, also a multiple Grammy Award-winner. The members of both ACME and Theatre of Voices worked closely with the composer many times, both in the studio and in multiple live performances and tours, before his untimely death.
Drone Mass is an extraordinary, mysterious accomplishment which at times bears comparison with the meditative minimalism of composers such as Arvo Pärt or Henryk Górecki. Beginning with strings and voices, but slowly integrating Joìhannsson’s electronic techniques into its landscape, the work represents what the Icelandic composer called “a distillation of a lot of influences and obsessions”.