Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic composer/instrumentalist. His new album
'Living Room Songs' is an intimate affair befitting the context in which
he recorded these seven compositions. It is indeed a home made affair.
Mr Arnald's muse bears close kinship with that of Goldmund (aka Keith
Kennif), in particular his haunting 2008 album 'The Malady Of Elegance'.
Mr Arnald is clearly a gentle soul whose compositions, though beguilingly
simple, are full of restrained beauty and pathos. The piano sits at the
heart of the majority of the pieces in the set but his touching, almost
folksy, melodies are embroidered with warm string embellishments and the
addition, on one track, 'Near Light', of a subtle electronic rhythmic pattern.
Like the words of a carol from the season just passed "All Is Calm, All Is
Bright", this lovely music belongs to the long shadows of a summer evening
or a rolling snow-covered landscape at first light. Occasional incidental
sounds, like that of a creaking chair on 'Tomorrow's Song', are left in place,
which contributes an ineffable human presence to the piece's elusive magic.
Elsewhere, opening track 'Fyrsta' weaves a melancholic threnody from the
softly ambling piano osinato and luminous strings; the Janacek-like theme
of 'Agust' would not have sounded out of place had it been a part of his
delightful 1900-1912 thirteen-piece cycle for piano 'On An Overgrown Path'
and at just over two minutes long the final track 'This Place Is A Shelter'
generates a palpable sense of calm and tranquility. A tiny song for the moon.
A little serenity is good for the spirit. Mr Arnalds' heart is clearly in the right place.