Home » Artists » Island Songs

Olafur Arnalds: Bio

Born in 1986, Ólafur Arnalds hails from the suburban Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær, just a few kilometres outside of Reykjavík. He has immersed himself completely in a world of delicate symphonic compositions generating near weightless orchestral pieces. Arnalds explores the crossover from classical to pop by mixing chamber strings and piano with discreet electronics which makes him a perfect fit for cinematic music label Erased Tapes. His motivations are clear: 'The classical scene is kind of closed to people who haven't been studying music all their lives. I would like to bring my classical influence to the people who don't usually listen to this kind of music…open people's minds.'

Through relentless touring and determination this young artist has steadily gained recognition worldwide since his 2007 debut 'Eulogy for Evolution'. His 2008 follow-up EP ‘Variations of Static' earned Ólafur acclaim from both the contemporary and classical field – transcending a traditional divide. He has sold out some of the world's most renowned music venues including Barbican Hall in London and has been awarded‘Best Live Session of 2008' by BBC Radio 1 presenter Gilles Peterson.

Over the past eighteen months Arnalds has advanced from a former support-act for Sigur Rós to an internationally respected artists in his own right. In April 2009 Arnalds created the 7 song series 'Found Songs' – recording a song a day for 7 days and instantly making each track available via Twitter and the official Erased Tapes website with over 300.000 people downloading for free.

December 2009 saw the release of Ólafur's contemporary dance score 'Dyad 1909', commissioned by the award-winning choreographerWayne McGregor. The dance piece, inspired by Shackleton's South Pole premiered at the Sadler's Wells theatre in October 2009 and became a much talked about 5-nights of live music, dance and visuals. BBC Four, the ITV1 South Bank Show and Arte TV Europe broadcasted 'Dyad 1909' on primetime television.

Ólafur Arnalds' second full-length album '...and they have escaped the weight of darkness', continues his mission to lure an indie-generation of pop and rock fans into an emotive world of beguiling electronic chamber music and delicate classical arrangements. The sense of an organic crossover recording is reinforced by the involvement of co-producer Barði Jóhannsson of eccentric pop/rock/electronica-formationBang Gang. Those expecting a mere continuation of the minimal melancholia of his previous albums are in for a surprise, as the record may be the most uplifting and richly orchestrated work of his career.
 

'Precocious Nordic composer's sumptuous second LP … Timeless and sublime' «««« – UNCUT

‘An artist of immense maturity' (9/10) – Drowned In Sound

'Hotwired to the soul. ...will reduce you to wordless tears' – The Quietus

‘This set's effortless poise elevates him to the genre's upper echelons' – BBC Music

‘Meticulous… uplifting and richly orchestrated… peopled with languorous ladies climbing through ice filled caverns' – Clash

'Arnalds' boldest and most ambitious take… the robust yet ethereal, mid-tempo tearjerker …And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness is a success for the composer' (7.0) – Pitchfork

‘Tenderly rendered puffs of ambient distress' «««« – Spin

‘Keep an eye on Arnalds. He will only increase in importance' (86%) – Filter

‘This 23-year-old Icelandic composer casts a haunting spell… This is beautifully crafted neo-classial music, with an emphasis on mood as much as melody' – Music & Musicians

‘In the growing canon of "home classical" works, Arnalds has added another benchmark' – Exclaim!

‘Olafur Arnalds has already made a name for himself as a musical maverick who skirts the edges of the classical, rock, electronic, and avant-garde worlds with enthusiastic ease, a Nico Muhly with a higher tolerance for cold weather, if you will… breaking new ground… showing the rock crowd that they too have a point of entry into this music' (7/10) – All Music Guide

In March 2010 he embarked on his first ever China Tour, which included sold-out shows in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and a live webcast watched by thousands of fans all round the world. On July 1st 2010 Ólafur Arnalds will be performing the world premiere of his new album with brand new arrangements for a full-blown symphony orchestra at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. André de Ridder, who previously worked withNico Muhly and Damon Albarn, will be conducting the RNCM Symphony Orchestra. Ólafur will continue touring the rest of the world throughout the year to promote the new album release.

The new album '...and they have escaped the weight of darkness' has been released worldwide on May 8, 2010 via Erased Tapes Records.

Best Live Session of 2008 – BBC Radio 1 Gilles Peterson show

'The sound of cracking ice and freezing winds in Olafur Arnalds's evocative and lyrical score' «««« – Times

'The work is a fascinating collaboration' (4/5) – Guardian

'Mature, modern explorations of life and its unexpected joys, rendering Arnalds increasingly visible' Best of What's Next – Paste Magazine

1 Arbakkinn ft. Einar Georg
2 1995 ft. Dagny Arnalds
3 Raddir ft. South Iceland Chamber Choir
4 Oldurot ft. SinfoniaNord & Atli Orvarsson
5 Dalur ft. Brasstro Mosfellsdals
6 Particles ft. Nanna Bryndos Hilmarsdottir
7 Doria
Olafur Arnalds - Arbakkinn ft. Einar Georg
Olafur Arnalds - 1995 ft. Dagn? Arnalds
Olafur Arnalds - Raddir ft. South Iceland Chamber Choir
Olafur Arnalds - ?ldur?t ft. SinfoniaNord, Atli ?rvarsson
Olafur Arnalds - Dalur ft. Brasstr?? Mosfellsdals
Olafur Arnalds - Particles ft. Nanna Brynd?s Hilmarsd?ttir

Icelanders make up one of the most musical nations on earth with one of the highest rates of ensembles per capita in the world. How do the beautiful yet harsh Icelandic conditions affect their music-making' In Island Songs, the innovative and brilliant composer Ólafur Arnalds (BAFTA Award winner for Broadchurch) teams up with director Baldvin Z (BBC's Trapped, Life in a Fishbowl) to explore the vibrant artistic life of his fellow countrymen and women in a fascinating, real-time, audio-visual portrait of his home country of Iceland.

26 Total  33 Total
SYND:
PRI/Echoes, CBC
Direct: AccuRadio
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Albuquerque
INTER: Canada, UK, Spain
Online: TOWERLOAD, Music To Heal the Heart, Musicas Imaginadas, One World, rise