Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ólafur Arnalds "Eulogy For Evolution"

Artist: Ólafur Arnalds
Album: Eulogy For Evolution
Label: Erased Tapes
Release date: 29 October 2007
Genre: Rock
Style: Modern Classical/Progressive Rock

01. 0040
02. 0048_0729
03. 0952
04. 1440
05. 1953
06. 3055
07. 3326
08. 3704_3837
Total running time: 39' 36"

[Ólafur Arnalds - Open MySpace Standalone Music Player]

"Born of paroxysmal strings and tender piano, Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds cradles his solo debut from the moment it escapes the womb, perfecting every moment of its growth and existence with the nurturing touch of a new parent.

Only 20 years of age, Olafur has shed the skin two prior musical projects and immersed himself completely in the world of delicate symphonic compositions in a near weightless orchestral undertaking. Comprised of eight nameless tracks, the early portion of the record is driven by the above-mentioned passive piano work and concerted strings that crisscross each other’s paths, often rolling off one another and intersecting in gentle, wavy shifts of classical sound.

It can’t be stressed enough just how delicate the first side of the album is. Each piano key is touched, almost stirred, with the utmost precision and hope. The sound plays like an open mouth preparing a whisper; fullness of breath on lips, ready to send a mouthful of warm wind and words to another, hoping they understand, both verbally and emotionally. Add this up a multitude of times and weave in a series of orchestral movements that pull the heartstrings like a marionette, and you have a decent idea of where the album stands. If not, we can just try this: Ludovico Einaudi meets a lyric-less, down tempo Sigur Ros.

Arnald’s compositions skate across frozen ponds of classical synthesis, spinning on the ice and sketching their lines in the thick palette of frozen water. If you were to pull yourself up from the world and gaze back down at the landscape, you’d see gentle loops laced like winter crop circles across the slice of an urban glacier. Perhaps a winter scene, but something here echoes with an eerie amount of heightened warmth.

As the tracks progress, a subtle shift in their architecture becomes evident. The piano remains soft on the surface, but things below seem to strengthen as the strokes become sharper, fiercer, and almost augment the shape and sound of their string counterpart. Eventually, things spill over on the fourth song, and as if being antagonized by the jabs of the piano, the string section literally launches itself to the forefront of the piece, surrounding the listener with an ephemeral bubble of eurythmic ego. It’s completely stunning, really.

From this moment on, the record takes on a different mood, as the strings now seem to have become comfortable in their identity and aren’t bashful about showering the songs with their presence. In response, the piano passages become staunch and determined, but in a strangely unique way maintain their fragility and composure. For nearly twenty minutes a nearly paralyzing, surreal interplay takes place between the two classes of instruments, who instead of casually crossing each other’s path, are now embroiled in a heated discourse. It’s incredible how quick the music present here can push you back into the viewer’s seat, as you listen to things develop, unravel, and play into much thicker plots. Hamlet à la headphones, but prettier.

However, midway through the sixth song, something very strange takes place, smack in the middle of otherwise engaging musical dialogue: drums. And even though they seem to appear for only a brief moment, they completely mud things up and push the whole atmosphere of the disc into a strange place, like an uninvited guest barging into a conversation. Whatever their purpose, they scare the hell out of the harpischord, as it disappears entirely on the next to last song, while instead we’re treated to an impassioned screech of string tumult. The keys make a quick visit on the last track, but just as things are returning to their prior mood, the whole scene blows up into a mish-mash of progressive rock clamor-- a strange, and bitter, conclusion to an extremely solid record.

Shakespeare and ice-skating aside, Arnalds has put together one cookie of an album here. The underlying classical layer coupled with the unique distinctive emotional attachment to the detailed character of his compositions is really baffling, considering his newness to this genre. Now, with one album popped out and well into puberty, one can’t help but wonder what this Icelandic lad will knock up, and knock out, next." [source]



danzadanzi said...

beautifull ...a good companion for after the rain situation.
thx for this great music

Anubis said...

excuse me, what is the password for the zip file?