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Classical - Released August 24, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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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 relationship between man and machine with this album. Over the past two years he has worked on a software called Stratus, which allows two pianos to automatically play computer-generated music. But how does that work? Arnalds sits in his living room at the piano, equipped with the Moog Piano Bar, a device that transforms acoustic pianos into MIDI controllers. When he presses a note on his piano, the software generates a sequence on the other two pianos installed in the studio. "I’m basically playing the piano, but I’ve created a different instrument out of the piano", he explained in a video on his YouTube channel at the beginning of 2018. “And it often reacts in a very unexpected way. For example, when I play a C, the other pianos are going to play notes that I’m not necessarily expecting. So I’ll have a completely different reaction. Something like this really messes with the way you create stuff and affects the ideas that come out - you get ideas that you would never get otherwise.”He deploys this revolutionary method throughout the record, mixing his pianos with ethereal string sections, live percussion and beats that are co-produced by Bngrboy (notably with the addictive opening track that is sure to be a future classic). Above all, nothing sounds forced, everything flowing with an Olympic-level lightness. By using machines to change how we view human creativity, Ólafur Arnalds’ avant-garde creation paves the way for a new musical direction. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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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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Ambient - Released March 4, 2016 | Erased Tapes

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Ambient - Released October 2, 2015 | Erased Tapes

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Ambient - Released August 21, 2015 | Erased Tapes

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Classical - Released April 26, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 7, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 8, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released June 14, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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

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Alternative & Indie - To be released November 6, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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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...