Island Songs documents Olafur Arnalds recent travelling project, in which he visited 7 different towns in his native Iceland and composed a new piece with a local artist in each town. The assembled results (including a DVD of visual documentation if you choose the CD edition) mix Arnalds’ stately melancholy with a great range of other approaches. On Decca Classics.
Vinyl LP £17.76 4812861
LP on Decca Classics.
CD £12.49 4812857
CD + DVD on Decca Classics.
Won’t somebody please think of the peninsulas?
You may well know who Olafur Arnalds is by now, either because your pal Nils Frahm introduced you two at that neo-classical networking event you went to, or because you’ve been immersed in his back catalogue of ambient schmaltz. He continues to be quite wonderful here with ‘Island Songs’, a collection for which he travelled around rural Iceland collaborating with local artists whose music needed some representation. There’s recordings of their tracks and lovely videos to go with them.
These fine artists are in safe hands with Arnalds, who helps them create gorgeous works for the usual school-serious instruments: “Arbakkin”, composed with EInar Georg Einarsson, has a lovely piano playing alongside crying strings, with a few words announcing the project before we get going. “1995” sees harmonium take centre stage as the usual curtain of violins pulls the heart from either side ‘til it comes undone. It’s rather touching hearing Arnalds showcasing these artists and prove that this kind of deeply sentimental branch of neo-classical is more than a bloggable fad -- in fact it’s being composed and performed by artists all around Iceland.
There’s also versatility in these works, which go anywhere from ornate and choral to quite sparse indeed. Anyone who loves Arnalds will, no doubt, love his new extended family of players. Would somebody buy me a violin please? I want to blow my nose on it.
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- Island Songs by Olafur Arnalds
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