Olafur Arnalds - Living Room Songs

09 January, 2012

By C. Mike


It's hard to imagine a young Olafur Arnalds smashing a drumkit in his native Reykjavik with fellow thrash metal bandmates Living Shit. Since then, the boy has grown up and after 3 EP's and 2 official albums, "Living Room Songs" comes out sincere, naïve and majestic - all this at the same time! Wow! How did he do it?

Well, there is a great story behind all great art, and this is one of those stories.


He decided he'd record one song each day for a week, all in the middle of his living room. Then, he thought he'd release each song every day as he finished it. He created a website, gathered some pals to film the "experiment" and invited friends, his mother, sister and girlfriend for a private listen. The result? An ordeal of 7 acoustic, modern classical, future diamonds made from a man so deep in his classical training but with such a wider perspective on the forms of it. 

Now the delicacy of the music produced derives from the young lad's majestic naturalistic country. Iceland, with its stillness of motion, ethereal beauty, tension of the ocean surrounding it and total solitude were the main reasons this is so fragile, yet so warm and truthful.


On Fyrsta, Arnalds is accompanied by 2 violins, one viola and a cello, as he starts the proceedings with what he does best, bringing a build up climax to the song as it progresses.


Then, on Near Light,his mother and sister are added to the buildup handling the Korgs and drum loops, giving the song a progressive aesthetic and a move forward to Olafur's modern classical roots. On Film Credits, he leaves his piano and grabs the producer chair watching his string choir beautifully succeed in producing melancholy sounds, strongly resembling the work of another modern contemporary, Max Richter.


Tomorrow's songis backed by no one else other than Arnalds wonderful piano keys and for that, he has his girlfriend opposite, as if he delivers an ode to her delicacy. Agust follows as the highlight of the album, elevating this writer to the pantheon of modern compositors , what with the strings and piano battling as to which will prevail in this beauty landscape.


Which brings us to the last 2 songs, Lag fyrir Ömmuand and This place is a shelter. On the former, Arnalds uses a heavy string choir of 14 musicians, making the song bold and enormous, whereas in the latter, he invites all his neighbours in order to wrap up the proceedings by providing them a gift, the gift of his music and himself as an amazing classical composer, at the start of his game.


Fairytales like these can only happen in small populated countries like Iceland where people rely on land, nature and the people.


Arnalds combines all these 3 elements in his music, that's why this record is so strong. As his last song title states, this place is a shelter, this living room is where everyone feels warm and, I would have to add, this music is what makes the scenery so idyllic.    





Primary Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Post-Classical

Release Date: October 2011

Label: Erased Tapes Records

Influences:  Steve Reich, Max Richter, Arvo Part

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: Sylvain Chauveau , Balmorhea, Hildur Gudnadottir

Album Highlights: Near Light, Lag fyrir Ömmu, Agust









"This was something very new for me and it kinda makes me want to visit Iceland. A thoroughly enjoyable 'journey' 7/10"




Contributor mini-profile

C. Mike

C. Mike

12 Fluffy Reviews
"It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens"
Mini bio
Member of the White Room film production team where he works as a director, editor and head chef. His team's clients include the famous and very talented musicians of the Greek music industry. He was also an amazing basketball player, but, nowadays, something's wrong with his shot balance , resulting in very poor performances. Nevertheless, he still believes in a resurection. 
Mike is a vinyl collector, with a pretty pretty good stock. He thinks music is his passion. But is he music's passion???

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