Five Founts of Ethereal Weirdness: Ólafur Arnalds, Es, Ville Leinonen, and Paavoharju
Ólafur Arnalds is a young Icelandic composer who's worked with 65daysofstatic and performed live with a string quartet across Europe. His debut CD, Eulogy for Evolution, mixes past and future, combining piano, strings, and subtle electronics into a swirling eight-track suite with numbers instead of track titles ("0952," "3055," "3704_3837," etc.). It builds and recedes like a cross between Clint Mansell's Requiem for a Dream score and Philip Glass's less-synth-driven work; it's so relentless (OK, maybe "gently persistent") that when a sudden swirl of notes rises out of the main melody, it's like a Roman candle going off in a library. Arnalds's latest release, the Variations of Static EP, is much more about electronics (beats, even) and delicate, digital sound manipulation—glitchy clicks and pops skitter across the headphone space even as the strings surge romantically. At one point, a computer speaks in a childlike voice, adding an off-kilter pathos that saves the music from sappiness.
Meanwhile, in Finland, Fonal has reissued three albums from 2004 to 2007 that, collectively, make me think there's some kind of tech-savvy hippie insurgency taking over their independent-music scene...[Read the rest here.]