Living Room Songs EP
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Following in the spirit of Ólafur Arnalds critically acclaimed Found Songs (2009) where he wrote, recorded and released a free song every day for a week - now comes Living Room Songs. This time Ólafur takes the idea further and invites the audience into the comfort of his living room, where the songs were recorded live and the whole process filmed. The songs were instantly released in form of a free mp3 download and video stream- straight from Ólafur's Reykjavik apartment. In his own words: One night I was just playing my piano here in this apartment and I was writing a new song and I didn't have my phone on me which I usually use to record ideas. So I actually took out my MacBook and I didn't want to open like a proper recording program, so I just opened Photo Booth and recorded a video of myself playing the song so that I would remember the song. And I really liked the atmosphere of that video and that's when I thought I should do a series of songs in my living room... Ólafur Arnalds
In 2009, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Ólafur Arnalds released Found Songs, a collection formed by the writing and recording of one song per day for a week. The songs were released digitally, for free, ahead of compilation on the album proper. Two years’ later, Living Room Songs repeats this creative process: each of these seven pieces was available for free from his website, where videos of their recording can still be viewed. As the title conveys, these tracks were performed and recorded in the living room of his Reykjavik apartment.
As befits material captured in close quarters, the atmosphere of Living Room songs is suitably intimate and warmly affecting – strings slow-dance around the central piano motifs of Near Light, the sole offering here that adds glitches of electronica to proceedings; the elegiac Ágúst sighs its magnificence like the greatest closing credits arrangement to have never accompanied the post-climax comedown of a tear-spilling cinema hit. As the record progresses, the pieces become fuller. Lag fyrir Ömmu turns from a solo Arnalds affair – just him, hunched at the piano, lost in the moment – into something texturally triumphant as cellos and an armada of violins come into play. The video gently pans right from the pianist to reveal the presence of the assembled horde, as if it’s no big deal whatsoever to have half an orchestra over for tea and biscuits.
Those familiar with Arnalds’ previous work – his second LP proper of 2010, …and They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness, was a real calling card moment for the man, a collection which raised him to a position amongst today’s premier contemporary neo-classical composers/soundtrackers (see also: Max Richter, Yann Tiersen, Nils Frahm) – will come to Living Room Songs with an idea of what to expect. And it certainly meets every expectation, albeit without stretching far beyond anticipated designs. Given the speed of this set’s genesis, though, a relative lack of adventurousness compared to its maker’s grander statements can be overlooked in favour of its simple beauty. Even at his most reserved, Arnalds is an artist who can exert immense power with the lightest of touches.
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Top Customer Reviews
'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.
Thin Cocteau Twins Victorialand without the singing or Diamond mine by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins or a similar vibe.
The vinyl 10" is a piece of art in its self. Lots of drawings, cards and pictures included. Very nice indeed.
I also have Found songs which is almost as good, but not quite there.
Olafur's music is simple, haunting and beautiful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lovely gentle relaxing piano playing spoiled by the creaking noise of Olafur shifting around on his piano stool as he is playing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by David S
simply perfect in its simplicity of packaging and such beautiful music. def recommendPublished 17 months ago by Babs O'Brien
This is absolutely mesmerising music. Wonderful to listen to anywhere. I just wish there was more of it on this disc!!Published on 15 May 2014 by Ms R C Evans
Another great collection of very simple sounding music that I never get tired of listening to. Less is more. Thank you Olafur.Published on 23 Mar. 2014 by Mr D
The CD was easy to search for and delivery was well within expectations and packaged securely. Difficult to say much more as it is a Christmas present.Published on 16 Dec. 2013 by Jeanette B.