“I don’t want to become this predictable artist who always does the same thing. I would rather take a risk and try something else,” Icelandic musician and composer Ólafur Arnalds told Interview magazine when his fourth full-length album, For Now I Am Winter, was released in April. Sure enough, Arnalds is doing his damnedest to make good on the quote — his latest is yet another singular entry in the ever-busy 26-year-old’s sonic evolution, which began as a teenage drummer for a Heavy Metal outfit called Fighting Shit in his hometown of Mosfellsbær, located just south of Reykjavik.
Since then he’s collaborated with German Metal band Heaven Shall Burn; released a series of instrumental EPs and albums; toured with like-minded countrymen Sigur Rós (among others); and composed numerous film and television scores, the latest of which is for an ITV series called Broadchurch. He even scored a ballet. Not bad for a former metalhead.
The biggest creative U-turn on For Now I Am Winter is the use of vocals, which come courtesy of friend Arnór Dan Arnarson, best known as the lead singer for the Icelandic group Agent Fresco. The title track is a gorgeous slow-burner marked by Arnarson’s whispery vocals and Arnalds’ atmospheric electronic compositions, which float by via twinkling keyboards and glitchy beats that sound as if they’re itching to break through to another, less nuanced record. New collaborator Nico Muhly’s orchestral arrangements add even more majesty to a song (and album) that is sure to leave listeners aching for more. And, knowing Arnalds, it won’t be long before he’s back with yet another intriguing musical creation.
This show is presented as part of the Contemporary Arts Center’s performance season.
OLAFUR ARNAL DS performs Friday, Oct. 4 at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here .