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...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness (Bonus Edition)

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Album Review

They must be putting something in the water over there in Iceland that makes musicians work in unexpected ways. Their biggest pop and rock exports — Björk and Sigúr Ros, respectively — have borne very little relation to what the rest of the world thinks of as pop and rock, so why should their most promising young neo-classical composer be any different? At an age when most young men are still trying to decide between grad school and the night shift at Denny's, Olafur Arnalds has already made a name for himself as a musical maverick who skirts the edges of the classical, rock, electronic, and avant-garde worlds with enthusiastic ease, a Nico Muhly with a higher tolerance for cold weather, if you will. On his second full-length release, Arnalds moves further away from electronics to embrace a more acoustically oriented approach centered on piano and strings. Electronics do play a supporting role — they're simply used to enhance the atmosphere here and there, but in the main, Arnalds is creating 21st century chamber music here, as the piano makes simple, elegant statements whose harmonic possibilities are further fleshed out by the strings. And Arnalds may be a modernist in terms of pushing stylistic boundaries, but he still has some old-school, downright romantic notions about melodic movement — you won't find any polytonality or serial music among these tracks. Arnalds prefers instead to repurpose old-school harmonic conventions in a new context, offering the listener a readily accessible emotional connection but still breaking new ground. And on the few strategic spots in the album where Arnalds drops in drums and/or electric guitar and repetitive motifs, the effect is not dissimilar to the headier moments of the aforementioned Sigúr Ros, or perhaps early-‘70s Pink Floyd at their most ethereal, showing the rock crowd that they too have a point of entry into this music. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Love Songs for Ghosts

This album is fanstastic! The atmosphere and ambience that the sparseness of the arrangements has leaves you contemplating its haunting beauty. The depth is desolate at times, but has such passion. Only one note may be played, but its the right note! The tension of the music ebbs and flows to its own tide. Aesthetic and esoteric, not for consumption of the unenlightened masses.

Everything this guy does is Brilliant

This album has some really beautiful melancholic textures and tones, in the same style as Max Richter's works. I have been generally unimpressed with the majority of the new music being released, but am finding great satisfaction with Olafur Arnalds, as well as Josh Kramer's "Only Memories" album, and Nico Muhly's The Reader, both of which are two of my all time favorites. Treat yourself and buy them all - I'll accept your thanks in advance :)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this album.

In fact, this might be one of the most quietly devastating pieces of music I have heard in ages. Arnald's instrumentals and spare orchestrations (except when they're not) are as infectious as they are infinitely listenable. I have a feeling this is just the first of many of his CDs I will be purchasing this week.


Born: November 3, 1986 in Mosfellsbaer, Iceland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Ólafur Arnalds is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer who started as a drummer for a series of metal bands in his native Iceland. His entry into the neo-classical field was somewhat accidental. After German band Heaven Shall Burn heard some solo demo material, they asked him to provide piano-and-string pieces for their 2004 album Antigone. The Erased Tapes label heard the album, was impressed with Arnalds' contributions, and contacted him about recording a full album of material in that...
Full Bio
...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness (Bonus Edition), Ólafur Arnalds
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Customer Ratings