EUROPE

The Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Ólafur Arnalds has written numerous film and television scores and has already released four previous solo albums. His new, 10-track album some kind of peace (no caps please!), released in early November this year, is mesmeric and transporting.

Shortish, at 38 minutes, the album provides an enveloping soundscape of what might broadly be described as ambient electronica, although classical instruments, notably strings and piano, are prevalent throughout.

The tracks are virtually devoid of lyrics, but do feature occasional guest artists. Josin, otherwise known as the soaring German singer and composer Arabella Rauch, is credited on The Bottom Line, while Back to the Sky features vocals by female Icelandic singer and musician JFDR.

For me, Woven Song had echoes of mid-1990s world music ensemble Deep Forest, if you can remember them (it actually samples the voice of Herlinda Agustin Fernandez of the shamanic Shipibo of Peru).

The hypnotic Spiral is gorgeously meditative, while Zero is a wavelike instrumental track. Elegiac closing track Undone is full of mournful surging strings, and opens with sampled speech faintly reminiscent of The Orb’s classic chill-out listen Little Fluffy Clouds (although that vocal sample, of an interview with US singer Rickie Lee Davis, was unauthorised – The Orb are apparently forever known to her as “those fuckers”).

Bonobo, aka talented US-based British DJ, producer and musician Simon Green – who has, I guess, chosen to name himself after a particularly sexually profligate breed of monkey – is credited on the first track, Loom, which also features a wordless female vocal. I found it to be a particularly gorgeous listen (the video can be found at the end of the post).

According to semi-trusty Wikipedia, Arnalds unexpectedly turns out to have drummed for heavy metal bands before embarking on his solo career. He is nothing if not innovative. The New Statesman noted that his previous album, Re:member, featured “two self-playing, algorithm-driven pianos of [his] own design”.

At its most basic the album provides a kind of enveloping aural wallpaper, that you can sink into like an accommodating sofa while you WFH. But at its best it approaches transcendence. It’s an album that benefits from repeated listening, and here in the UK is available on Spotify.

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