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Classical - Released March 16, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

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This week's entry in the very-much-like-nothing-you've-ever-heard-before sweepstakes comes from Icelandic electronic musician and composer Ólafur Arnalds and German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, whose recording of Chopin waltzes inspired the project. What you get are recordings of Chopin piano compositions, plus original compositions by Arnalds based on motifs from Chopin. In one case, "Eyes Shut/Nocturne in C minor" (track six), the two are combined. Arnalds' pieces employ his own electronic keyboard textures, plus a live string quintet. On top of this, the pianos are vintage instruments hunted down in Reykjavik, and the ambience, if you will, was manipulated by recording in various venues and with various microphones there. And, on top of all this, Arnalds adds ambient soundscapes (noise, sounds of conversation, whispers, etc.) to the music. The ideas seem packed in a bit thick. The string quintet, for example, was a sound unused by Chopin, and it introduces an element that seems discordant with the source material. But there is a major X factor working in favor of this release: nobody has ever tried anything much like this, either with Chopin or with any other composer, and it just might be the beginning of something new and important. Check it out and decide for yourself! © James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released October 28, 2016 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

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This 2015 release is the first full-length soundtrack album for the ITV series Broadchurch. Expanding on the 2013 EP of season one highlights, it includes selections from the first two seasons of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds' (Gimme Shelter, The Hunger Games) salient, BAFTA Award-winning score for the popular U.K. murder mystery show. With the exception of "So Close" and "So Far," which feature Arnór Dan on vocals, instrumentation is limited to piano, electronics, and strings, the latter recorded in a Reykjavik church for a natural reverberation. The music is widely considered to be a vital component of the show's foreboding atmosphere. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released April 1, 2017 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released October 28, 2016 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 1, 2017 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released March 16, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

Booklet
This week's entry in the very-much-like-nothing-you've-ever-heard-before sweepstakes comes from Icelandic electronic musician and composer Ólafur Arnalds and German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, whose recording of Chopin waltzes inspired the project. What you get are recordings of Chopin piano compositions, plus original compositions by Arnalds based on motifs from Chopin. In one case, "Eyes Shut/Nocturne in C minor" (track six), the two are combined. Arnalds' pieces employ his own electronic keyboard textures, plus a live string quintet. On top of this, the pianos are vintage instruments hunted down in Reykjavik, and the ambience, if you will, was manipulated by recording in various venues and with various microphones there. And, on top of all this, Arnalds adds ambient soundscapes (noise, sounds of conversation, whispers, etc.) to the music. The ideas seem packed in a bit thick. The string quintet, for example, was a sound unused by Chopin, and it introduces an element that seems discordant with the source material. But there is a major X factor working in favor of this release: nobody has ever tried anything much like this, either with Chopin or with any other composer, and it just might be the beginning of something new and important. Check it out and decide for yourself! © James Manheim /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 5, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

This 2015 release is the first full-length soundtrack album for the ITV series Broadchurch. Expanding on the 2013 EP of season one highlights, it includes selections from the first two seasons of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds' (Gimme Shelter, The Hunger Games) salient, BAFTA Award-winning score for the popular U.K. murder mystery show. With the exception of "So Close" and "So Far," which feature Arnór Dan on vocals, instrumentation is limited to piano, electronics, and strings, the latter recorded in a Reykjavik church for a natural reverberation. The music is widely considered to be a vital component of the show's foreboding atmosphere. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Classical - Released August 30, 2019 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 1, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 31, 2014 | Mercury (Universal France)

Enigmatic Icelandic composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Ólafur Arnalds' major-label debut, the Mercury-issued (and aptly titled) For Now I Am Winter, effortlessly incorporates elements of pop into the budding singer/songwriter's already evocative blend of wistful neo-classicism and icy electronica. Though his work has been seeping into the mainstream of late, with soundtrack contributions to films like Looper and The Hunger Games, Arnalds remains a shadowy figure, and For Now I Am Winter, despite its more commercial leanings, does little to dispel that notion. Helped along by the tasteful orchestrations of American composer Nico Muhly and the fluid and expressive voice of guest vocalist and fellow Icelander Arnor Dan, the lush and lonesome collection falls somewhere between the ambient, string-laden melancholy of Eluvium, the rural soul searching of Bon Iver, and the cosmic opulence of Sigur Rós. Arnalds has cited the changing of the seasons as a key theme here, and while standout tracks like the mesmerizing "Old Skin" and the propulsive and vibrant "Reclaim," both of which toe the line between the playful dynamics of Owen Pallett's Heartland and the elegiac grandeur of Jónsi's Go, definitely hint at the verdancies of spring and summer, this is most certainly a winter's tale, and one that pairs well with Arnalds' more minimalist tendencies. While the four tracks that Dan lends his formidable pipes to provide the most instantly engaging moments on the album, instrumental selections like the quietly lustrous "Only the Winds," the fractured and foreboding "This Place Was a Shelter," and the lovely, bare-bones "Words of Amber" are just as resonant when allowed time to percolate. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 21, 2017 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released July 11, 2016 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 1, 2015 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released August 30, 2019 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 21, 2017 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Classical - Released July 11, 2016 | Mercury (Universal France)

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Ólafur Arnalds in the magazine
  • Olafur Arnalds : futuristic music !
    Olafur Arnalds : futuristic music ! While the artificial intelligence tasked with composing music over these past few years have not produced anything particularly poignant, the Icelander Ólafur Arnalds has initiated a new relationsh...