Stories » Unpeeling the sonic layers of Olafur Arnalds - re:member / musicOMH

Top 10 for Feb

Unpeeling the sonic layers of Olafur Arnalds - re:member / musicOMH

Bookmark and Share

Listening to a record as accomplished as Re:member, it's hard to comprehend that Ólafur Arnalds became a classical composer almost by accident. Back in his native Iceland in the mid-2000s, drumming for an obscure hardcore band, he was asked to write some short piano and string pieces for an album by German metal group Heaven Shall Burn after sharing demos of his own prog rock-influenced compositions while supporting them on tour. These first forays were well-received, and it wasn't long before Arnalds put down his drumsticks permanently to focus full time on his unexpected new direction.

On a surface level, Re:member is a very pretty, well-structured collection of fairly conventional keyboard/strings compositions, underpinned by subtle electronica. Yet unpeel the sonic layers and the listener will find so much more going on. Arnalds' use of the pioneering Stratus technology he helped develop allows notes played on a main piano to generate alternative notes on two further pianos. This results in cascades of sometimes dizzylingly complex but always fluent and harmonically gorgeous interplays, a key ingredient of Re:member's deceptively complex recipe.