Review: Ólafur Arnalds – Eulogy For Evolution

Top marks to 21 year-old Ólafur Arnalds for boldness. His ambition is to “bring his classical influence to the people who don’t usually listen to this kind of music”. Cynics may argue that past efforts to do this largely involved in some pretty young things who relied more on image than unique talents. Arnalds seems to be a more serious proposition and thus far his plan seems to have been quite successful too with North American and European tours receiving rave reviews. His well-judged first album also does a fine job of attracting potential new listeners.

Opening piece ‘00.40’ and ‘09.52’ makes the decision of fellow countrymen Sigur Ros to use him as a support act very wise indeed; they’re both lovely, fragrant pieces of music, made up of delicate piano and string arrangements exuberant in warmth and melody. ‘14.40’ and ‘19.53’ take us into more melancholic territory; the latter in particlarly has an aura of epic romance that is tailor-made for soundtrack work. Only the final track really threatens to affront classical snobs and – in fairness – its apocalyptic storm of guitars is the only ill-advised step on a record which generally plays it safe.

Although the music is ostensibly modern classical it’s not of the confrontational, scary variety. Rather, ‘Eulogy For Evolution’ sticks to orchestral traditions but uses just enough modern production techniques to bring it to the wider audience Arnalds is aiming for.

Web Sites:
Ólafur Arnalds MySpace
Erased Tapes Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Sigur Ros

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