Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced at £20 + booking free. For more info & tickets click here
Touring nine venues across Ireland & England, Olafur Arnalds visits the Birmingham Glee Club in between dates at the Electric Palace – a reconverted cinema in Bridport – and the ABC nightclub in Glasgow. With a classically composed repertoire that’s ranged from ‘some overly dramatic prog rock’ to minimalist electronica, Arnalds is as potentially diverse as the venues that house him. During his UK tour Olafur Arnalds will also be performing at the Barbican (London) and the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester).
Starting out as a drummer for Hardcore/Metal bands in Iceland, Olafur Arnalds contributed three short incidental pieces to the 2004 album Antigone by the German Metal group Heaven Shall Burn – beautifully melodic blends of piano and strings, framing an otherwise intensely aggressive nine track thrash fest.
The success of Antigone, and the recognition of Arnalds’s incongruous contributions, prompted a call from the London based label Erased Tapes – who were busy mopping up modern composers such as Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick. Olafur Arnalds released his first classical collection, Eulogy for Evolution, through Erased Tapes in 2007, following with the five track Variations on Static EP a year later.
Defined by his haunting marriage of piano and strings, Olafur Arnalds found a firm place amongst the growing numbers of the ‘neo-classical’ genre. His sophomore EP, Found Songs (which was recorded & released as one song per day for seven days) displayed a confident melancholy over concurrent yet unique tracks – from the ivory lament of ‘Erla’s Waltz’ to the heart wrenched rising strings of ‘Allt varð hljótt’.
Arnalds’s subsequent Dyad 1909 EP, a special commission from British choreographer Wayne McGregor, would mark the artist’s more prominent foray into electronica – featuring broken beats and dark samples behind the ever present piano and strings.
This approach would be further evolved through Arnalds’s partnership with Janus Rasmussen, under the name Kiasmos, and later with label mate Nils Frahm. It would also be the driving (if not somewhat tempered) force behind Arnalds’s 2013 studio album, For Now I Am Winter – featuring vocals from Arnór Dan Arnarson.
But it was Arnalds’s second studio album, …and they have escaped the weight of darkness (2010), that would stamp the composer’s authority over the often avant garde genre he and his peers were helping shape.
Following a consistent and mournful narrative, the nine track collection continued Arnalds’s piano and strings led compositions, but using subtle layering and rising denouments with staggering effect. Co-produced by Barði Jóhannsson, the man credited for the more melodic endevours from the Icelandic surf band Bang Gang, …and they have escaped the weight of darkness was a seminal release for modern cross overs, arguably compelling a more widespread audience to dip their toes into classical compositions.
Subsequent score requests pushed Olafur Arnalds into the potentially lucrative world of soundtracks, including the Ron Krauss 2013 film Gimme Shelter and the current British TV series Broadchurch, before his last solo studio album, For Now I Am Winter, was released in February 2013 on Mercury Classics.
In October 2014 Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen released Kiasmos’s eponymous debut album. A further collaboration with pianist Alice Sara Ott, titled The Chopin Project, will feature nine recomposed pieces from the legendary Polish virtuoso – to be release through Mercury Classics on March 16th.
Olafur Arnalds comes to The Glee Club (B’ham) on Tuesday 24th February – presented by Birmingham Promoters. Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced at £20 + booking free. For more info & tickets click here
Ed King will be there for a Birmingham Review.
For more on Olafur Arnalds, visit http://olafurarnalds.com/
For further listings from The Glee Club (B’ham), including all comedy and live music shows, visit https://www.glee.co.uk/birmingham/
For more form Birmingham Promoters, visit http://birminghampromoters.com/
For more from Mercury Classics, visit http://www.mercuryclassics.com/