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Cold as a glacier
on 9 September 2011
I have read this CD to be pop influenced classical. Music that bridges the no man's land between the two. Better to say: music that hovers above the two, because it touches neither. And that is exactly where it goes wrong; it is too static for both, lacking soul and therefore conviction. A spun out piano line here, quivering violins there, yes, of course it sounds beautiful and, yes, it is soothing. But don't be fooled, is music about that? Only about trying to please? I think it needs to touch the heart. Good music should force one to stop what he is doing and make him or her listen, be it a shepherd playing flute, a punker maltreating his guitar or an orchestra performing a Mahler symphony.
The melodies are based on thin ideas and slow in developing, if there is such a thing as development at all: it is more the repeating of a single idea that leads nowhere, it just fades. Above all: the musicians have never met! Olafur played his piano parts in a workshop in Germany, Tony Levin added bass lines at his U.K. kitchen, and the violinists were recorded in an Icelandic studio - all that music is not about. It should be about emotions, interaction and not be a colouring by numbers. Too many pretensions here, the title and artwork being other ones. And Arnalds' recent efforts to perform this music live in established concert halls is as bad an idea as Enya performing at a death metal festival.
Surely there is a market for this; as said, on first hearing it sounds attractive, thus making it excellent, non-obtrusive background music for in waiting rooms, etc. But not for posterity: the more one listens the more boring it gets. Admittedly another function might be that this music may offer a gateway for some to listen to real classical music - those better try the Kronos Quartet. For those who want to explore the real wasteland between pop and classical I recommend Rachel's and the sublime Max Richter.