For those who have been following the recordings and performances of Icelandic composer and artist Ólafur Arnalds ths new recording will bring some surprises. Though only 26 years old 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. Now in this new set of works he is joined by the talents of classically oriented composer Nico Muhly and vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson and the result is an orchestration of Arnalds `music that is mind expanding and very atmospheric and moody.
Critic Matt Cibula has phrased it best and it is only fitting to quote him here: `First, become afflicted. Unclench your well-lined fists, open the door in the brick wall that surrounds your heart. Let the sadness of modern life wash over you like a waterfall, like a cold shower, like a breakup, a breakdown, a breakthrough. It takes a lot of control to keep it together in these times, and a lot of self-discipline to keep that control together. Just let it go; not all the way, because that way madness lies; just for a few minutes. Secondly, put on your best walking boots and go outside. The air is still a little chilly up here, especially in the mornings, although it's probably better wherever you are, but it's full of spring, of renewal, even hope: Easter, Passover, Spring Break, Opening Day. Let the sun hit you in the eyes so you have to squint; let the soft rain moisten your hair; see the rabbits and the sanitation workers do their early-morning jobs. Shops are opening, school buses are warming up, but the machine is not fully operational yet. Thirdly, allow yourself to truly feel this record. Don't worry about what kind of music Ólafur Arnalds makes. It's pop, but it's not; it's classical, but it's also electronic; it's jazz and it's rock and it's ambient and it's none of these things and all of them. Categories melt, boundaries are clearly meaningless. In the right light, that will be okay.'
Few could phrase it better. This is new music and it invites appreciation. Grady Harp, April 13