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Bleak Is Beautiful

May 3, 2023

Thank to Ambientblog to shine some light on my music.

He wrote about my recent releases Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson and Sub-Photic Scenario, both released by Erototox Decodings. He also included my track A Star´s Gone Dim in his DreamScene mix and mentioned that I have done 5 digital releases the last couple of years on my Bandcamp site.

Igloo Magazine reviews Sub-Photic Scenario

May 3, 2023

Thanks to Robin at Igloo Magazine for taking time to write about Sub-Photic Scenario

Click on the link above or the image to get to the review.

Beautifully lined with lead

May 3, 2023

A beautiful review of Sub-Photic Scenario by danish online soundart & music magazine Seismograf.

It is nice when someone actually clicks with what you do, specially when it is such a demanding listen.

Written in danish by Rasmus Weirup. Here follows an english translation:

Beautifully lined with lead

There is, I thought, when I read the press release for composer and sound artist Runar Magnusson’s Sub-Photic Scenario, an admirable audacity in, as Magnusson did, demanding that one’s music be listened to on quality speakers. Out of sheer defiance, I first tried to listen to the album through the built-in speakers of my mobile phone, but quickly realised that he has a point: the ultra-low-frequency soundscape of Sub-Photic Scenario is literally inaudible until it is allowed to come into its own on, alas, a pair of quality speakers. So here’s an invitation to the reader: get the surround sound system you never got around to installing out of the moving box, yes, the subwoofer too, and be overwhelmed by Sub-Photic Scenario’s extremely detailed, tactile and sensory-saturated universe. Because the album deserves it.

It is not by chance that I use the word universe: the album is like a gigantic galactic conch, which, if you hold it to your ear, contains not only the roaring sea and the rushing wind, but also the infinite, weightless emptiness of outer space, the deep rumble of the slowly shifting tectonic plates and the glowing pressure chamber of the earth’s interior. Sub-Photic Scenario can best be described as a form of ambient music, but the album could not be further from the typical tropes of the genre: the sound is not light and spherical, but heavy as if it were lined with lead; it does not hang in space like waves of light, but stands as if carved in granite. If you can resist the temptation to play it on your mobile phone.

Sub-Photic Scenario released today.

December 6, 2022

I am excited that my new release comes out on CD today. Released by Erototox Decodings and available at Bandcamp now.

Sub-Photic Scenario is a sister release of Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson that comes out on vinyl in february but is available digitally already. Second of three releases coming out. The three sisters of sorrow.

This work was inspired by the deep ocean, the pressure, the darkness and the fact that there are amazing creatures down there creating their own light, brightening up their surroundings via bioluminescence. Using chemical reactions these lifeforms become pockets of lights in the otherwise pitch-black, harsh environment they live in.

It was not until I had finished writing the album in 2021, that I understood its relation to my own life at the time, of what I was going through, a deep, dark depression, struggling with keeping my head above the water.

Sub-Photic Scenario is a part of a trilogy of releases that are made in the period of 2018 – 2021 and will come out in ´22-´23. All of them are related, showing my state of mind in that period.
A connection I only understood afterwards.
The years 2017-2021 were very hard for various reasons, I had moved to another country giving up financial security and network, in the beginning of 2018 I lost a good friend, the year after I lost my father in Iceland. I spiralled into a deep dark hole, a paralysing state to be in. It was not until mid 2021 that I reached out for help that some light started to appear. I got diagnosed with ADHD which gave myself a new understanding of my life. And I started to get some energy to get these releases out.

Each release in the trilogy comes in its own format.

Sub-photic Scenario is released on CD by Erototox Decodings / Hljóðaklettar.

Komplett Kollaps (a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson) is released on vinyl by Erototox Decodings / Hljóðaklettar.

Inside Out of Chaos, it will be released on tape by Tapeworm.

This release is dedicated to my father, Magnús Helgi Ólafsson that died just before I started working on it. His favourite orchestra was the nature orchestra. He took me to sea as a child and taught me to respect nature and my fellow human beings, especially those that might be less fortunate.

Sub-Photic Scenario was mastered by Yann Coppier. It was a difficult process that took over half a year. He showed great patience in the process and did countless versions. For optimal listening it needs to be listened to in a pair of quality headphones or speakers. Yann said it would make no sense in having this on streaming services. And I did not plan to do it but I decided to give it a try and see how it ends up sounding. So at least for a while it is available for streaming at the various platforms. It might be taken down at some point if we are not happy with the sound quality.

Lonesome Demons. A Review of Komplett Kollaps.

November 5, 2022

“The album might be the saddest thing I’ve heard in my entire life. For ‘Komplett Kollaps’ you can cry through the winter darkness and let the pain of life pass by” – Julie Hugsted has reviewed Runar Magnusson’s tribute album to the musician and friend Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away in 2018″

The Danish online mag Seismograf published a wonderful review of Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson.

In Danish, but I will put up uncle Google´s english version below.

In english:



by Julie Hugsted

Few things are as bleak as death, and precisely the farewell is the focal point of this tribute album to musician Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away in 2018, leaving Runar Magnusson with a melancholy that is omnipresent on this tearjerker of an artistically well-balanced album.

Aesthetic distortions of organ studies pierce the beautiful and compositionally accomplished Komplett Kollaps, which is one long mourning march, a declaration of love mourning the loss of a friend.

The opening track »Severed Voices« sounds like the slow breathing of a giving up pipe played backwards, while the organ enters a droned character on the 11-minute long »Dr. Diablo Plays the Organ’. The church bells creep away and an electronic voice repeats the words »A Star’s Gone Dim«, before the last track »Buried Treasures« ends the work in dark gray tones. The sound manipulation is subdued, repetitive, non-stop and touching in all its simplicity, and the message is so clear that there can be no doubting the emotions that underlie the music.

The album might be the saddest thing I’ve heard in my entire life. Devoid of melodious summer memories or the sound of spring. For Komplett Kollaps you can cry through the winter darkness and let the pain of life pass by.

#KomplettKollaps #RunarMagnussson #JohannJohannsson #seismograf #organ #dronemusic #electronicmusic #erototoxdecodings #hljóðaklettar #iceland #kodakultur #copenhagen #dedication #thesaddestthingIhaveheard

Organ Sound Art Festival 2022

October 15, 2022

I am looking forward to play at the Organ Sound Art Festival in KoncertKirken, Copenhagen this year.

I will be presenting my new release Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson.

The main sound-source that is used on this album is a recording from 2007, of Jóhann improvising on the church organ of Hellig Kors Kirke in Copenhagen. Together with various recordings I had received from Jóhann though out the years and had laying around on my harddrives for various reasons.

The festival is from 15th – 18th of december. I am playing on friday the 16th.

Thanks to organisers Björn Ross and Jan Stricker to inviting me and to come up with this excellent program.

Extreme Chill Festival last week.

October 13, 2022

It was great to play at the Extreme Chill Festival this year. It was the first time I played live for over 3 years. And first time in the old country for probably 8 years. The festival was great, really good lineup and I had a lot of fun.

I played at the opening night, materials from recent and coming releases such as Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Johann Johannsson, Sub-Photic Scenario (out soon on a CD), both as a collaborative release between Erototox Decodings & Hljóðaklettar. (Hljóðaklettar having been dormant for a long time, the homepage sadly not updated yet). I played stuff from Potent Lucid Daydreaming Portal With Profound Astral Attraction and Red Wine & Foam that are released on my Bandcamp page (where you can find 5 releases since 2021). And stuff released on compilations the last few years and unreleased stuff. I layered bits & pieces from these various projects and weaved them into a one concise performance. Or as one of the main icelandic music critics said about the set when taking about the evening “Excellent set, dark, concise, beautiful”

It was great to see Klara Lewis, Aristókrasía (Úlfur Eldjárn), KMRU, Fennesz, Maria W Horn, Meitei, Eraldo Bernocci & Christopher Chaplin, Stereo Hypnosis, Kira Kira and Úlfur. There was a lot of stuff i missed as well.

Photos by Ómar Sverrisson & Kristinn Magnusson.

Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson

September 19, 2022

I am happy to announce that my new release Komplett Kollaps – a dedication to Jóhann Jóhannsson is out today on Jóhann´s birthday.

Available now on Bandcamp, as a digital release with a pre-order for the vinyl. You can stream it or purchase via the various streaming services and online shops.

It is a released in collaboraton between the excellent Erototox Decodings and Hljóðaklettar. First activity for Hljóðaklettar in a long time, except for the regular Rous Radio mixes. (More releases on the way.)

This project started in the days after the death of my friend Jóhann Jóhannsson.
I was going through my hard drives listening to and working with sounds Jóhann had given to me for various reasons through the years. Some are parts of music that was to be released, some was master files for coming releases, I had provided some sound manipulation for some stuff and acted as a third ear on some releases. But main sound source was a recording in Copenhagen in 2007, where Jóhann was improvising on the church organ of Hellig Kors Kirke in Nørrebro. He recorded it to study the possibilities of the organ and gave me the recordings to use, which I did later that year when I supported his concert at the magnificent Marble Church in Copenhagen and later made a track that became available on a limited edition tape released by Hljóðaklettar. That track, “Dr. Diablo Plays The Organ” became a blueprint for this project and is included here as well.

This is a dedication Jóhann as well as an insight into my own state of mind at the time, a mental collapse which, in part was triggered by Jóhann´s death in february, 2018 and I did not start to see the darkness lift until the summer of 2021 when I finally sought out professional help. I got the diagnosis ADHD which helped me understand a lot about my life. In that period between 2018 and 2021 I had 3 releases almost ready but had not been able to finish until I got the diagnosis. Only after the fact and after the darkness lifted I could see that these three releases are connected and form a trilogy that show the mental state I was in, an incapacitating, downward spiral, a crushing chaos but in the end searching for the light and a way out of the maze and up to the surface.

I would like to thank:
My wife Gerda and my son Benedikt for the patience in tough times.
Jóhann´s estate for guiding me in the process.
Chandra of Erototox Decodings for the patience and trust.
Goddur & Bjarni H. Þórarinson for the beautiful artwork.
Yann for the endurance and mastery in the mastering process
KODA for supporting this work
And of course Jóhann Jóhannsson, i miss him dearly.

Composed, mixed and produced in 2018 – 2021 @Trans Europe Studios in Vienna & Copenhagen by Runar Magnusson (Except Dr. Diablo Plays The Organ in 2010)

Mastered in Copenhagen by Yann Coppier

Cover Artwork: Bjarni H. Þórarinson
Graphic design: Goddur
© & ℗ all rights reserved

Supported by KODA #Kodakultur

sneak peak:

Another album is on the way from Erototox Decodings/Hljóðaklettar. It will be a CD and is called it Sub-photic Scenario. It is in a way related to Komplett Kollaps. Made in the same period and in the same state of mind. It is inspired by the bioluminescent creatures of the deep sea. Here is a little peak at a part of the cover art.

Stroking (The Strings of Terror)

March 24, 2022

A new release for Ukraine

Pay what you want/can.

This release came originally out on a cassette years ago, on the Ukrainian label ~taqueOT. They did beautiful releases, outstanding packaging and artwork. I am not releasing this digitally to support my friends in ukraine. All profits will be sent to Ukraine. I will cover all transaction fees, so any fee that Paypal takes I will add to the donation from my own pocket. So every dime you decide to give will go uncut to a good cause.

The good people at ~taqueOT will be recommending a place to send the money too.

New Palindrone release: 2 2 0 2 2 0 2 2

February 22, 2022

Welcome to this release containing two new palindrone pieces to celebrate palindrome day 22.02.2022.
Composed, mixed and produced by Rúnar Magnússon in Vienna and Copenhagen february 2022.