It becomes standard knowledge that when dealing with an Icelandic band, you will never be able to actually pronounce their name, let alone any of their songs. This usual supposition holds true for Olafur Arnalds. The 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist and producer from Mosfellsbar, Iceland holds an insanely remarkable aptitude for such a young musician.
His newest album released earlier this year, And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness, is a delicately laid out arrangement of neo-classical songs that return to the order, balance, clarity, and sentiment of the late and great classical composers. Each song draws you into this romantically distressful atmosphere that entices you with beautiful orchestral sounds and can either envelop you in utter tranquility or make you cry wordless tears.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a classical music aficionado and I can't say that I listen to it on the regular, but isn't it so refreshing to listen to music that is thoughtful and beautifully tragic? Its elemental value cannot be ignored and his genius cannot be wavered.
By listening to the first couple of songs on his latest album one must assume that he is strictly a classical musician; but that isn't the case. Influenced by electronic, post-rock, and modern classical music alike, Olafur Arnalds incorporates various stylistic elements into his work. He mixes strings and piano with loops and edgy beats, crossing over from classical to pop. The results are incredible. He seamlessly embraces contemporary symphonic composition and instruments, but also makes use of electronic instrumentation.
Having already performed alongside Aphex Twin, Amiina, Johann Johannsson, and Sigur Ros, Arnalds is already on my list of favorites and can only be expected to create more significantly compelling music in the future.