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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ólafur Arnalds - Living Room Songs EP (2011)

Band: Ólafur Arnalds
Country: Mosfellsbær, Iceland
Style: Ambient/Neo-Classical
Label: Erased Tapes

Yep, here we have a new release from a musician I knew nothing about until last year. When I heard Arnalds' "...And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness" last year, I just fell in love with his work, to the extent that that album made it into my top 20 of my top 50 last year. I was actually a little surprised when I found out about this new EP, but I'm certainly not going to ignore it.
Now, after having gone back and listened to his earlier material, I still found his last full-length to show him at his peak, and this little EP shows a similar strength. From what I've read, it was recorded in his own living room, with multiple musicians coming in and adding their part to his vision. It definitely has a lot more of a live kind of feel to it, the strings feel less synthetic than on his other material. For how compact the space is, and you can definitely hear it in the songs, it fits with his music. The very minimalist style of composition that isn't too crazy, focusing on melancholic little lines that repeat over and over to create atmospheres that range from utterly depressing, Lag Fyrir Ömmu, to more uplifting, Near Lights. The electronic aspects of his sound also reappear on here, to a more prominent affect than on his last full-length. Call me a sucker for loving piano based music.
While, in my opinion, it doesn't hold the same emotional sort of weight that his last album did, this is still a great piece of minimalistic composition. It's not going to appeal to everyone, obviously, and it's not something I'd imagine a lot of people enjoying because of how dark and morose it can be, but I still love it. One of the best EPs I've heard all year, and something that'll definitely make it in my top EPs of the year.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Near Light, Ágúst

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