For Now I Am Winter

Olafur Arnalds

Mercury Classics, 2013

http://olafurarnalds.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/04/2013

Though he may be unknown to most of us in the rest of the world, in Iceland Olafur Arnalds has been doing great things for a long time. While he began his career behind the drum kit for metal and hardcore bands, he has since become more noted for his ability to mix classical, electronica, and pop sounds into ambient, experimental masterpieces. While he hasn't exactly broken into the mainstream yet, his work has been featured in Bruce Willis movies and reality TV in the States and he's toured with Sigur Ros. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

An aptly titled album, there is an undeniable coldness here in an often emotionally draining way. It's a dense listen and one that moves on like a thick coat of tension on your shoulders. The album opens with “Sudden Throw,” a cinematic sounding tune with emphasis on pianos that works its way into a nearly ebullient tone. Arnalds has stated the album is about the changing of the seasons, and that's no more evident than on “Reclaim,” a more summery, glowing song.

The frontman for Agent Fresco, Arnor Dan, lends his pipes on several selections here, most notably on “A Stutter” where the hazy feelings benefit the most from Dan's voice. The instrumental tracks, on the other hand, are filled with so much sparse beauty it would seem almost criminal to inject singing, as the calm “Only The Winds” and the stripped back “Words Of Amber” are among the best Arnalds has to offer here.

This is a great example of doing a lot with few resources. It's a minimalist affair yet leaves an indelible mark on the listener. Sure, it's a pop album at heart, but Arnalds' neo-classicism and dark electronica are still part of the equation and that 's what makes this album so unique and compelling.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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