Ólafur Arnalds: Re:member – Untainted calm and beauty

    
Artist: Ólafur Arnalds
Genre: Electronic
Label: Mercury KX

Before Icelandic ambient/neoclassical composer Ólafur Arnalds received the 2014 Bafta for best original music (for his score for the crime drama series Broadchurch), few had heard of him. Arnalds had been beavering away in his Reykjavik-based studio for some years previously, but exposure to his music via Broadchurch changed everything. One may have thought that the widening commercial appeal of his music might have altered or stymied Arnalds's creative output, but far from it – at least where his fourth solo album is concerned. Not that you'd be able to discern it, but Re:member's compositional basis is provided by Stratus, a custom-built software that refreshes the listening experience by creating unforeseen harmonies and unexpected melodic sequences. While there are no ruffled feathers here, the gorgeous "treated" music is enriched by a mix of synths, percussion, electronics and strings. Despite the title track echoing the melody of Kate Bush's This Woman's Work, Arnalds certainly knows how to weave a persuasive, original spell – tracks such as Inconsist, Ypsilon, Undir, Ekki Hugsa and Nyepi are textbook examples of sheer, untainted calm.