This year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds’ debut LP, Eulogy for Evolution. While the majority of Western Europe was caught up in the repetitive vowel sounds of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ and the doo-wop melodies of Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ in 2007, Arnalds was busy forging his own instrumental palette, combining a neo-classical ambience with luscious string lines, loops, and electronics.
Originally starting out as a drummer in hardcore bands, Arnalds’ experience writing instrumental intros and outros for German metal band Heaven Shall Burn led to his first taste of classical composition. At a similar time, Robert Raths was founding his label Erased Tapes, a community-focused effort to put out experimental instrumental music, and one which has now become synonymous with the classical-electronic sound of Arnalds, Nils Frahm, and A Winged Victory For The Sullen. As one of the first releases on Erased Tapes, Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution is a refreshingly mature debut, especially since it was written while Arnalds was only a teenager. Informed by the recent death of his uncle, the record is a sonic homage to the circle of existence, taking the listener from birth through death in its eight numerically labelled tracks, replete with emotive string swells and Arnalds’ signature plaintive piano playing.
Read the rest of the review in London in Stereo.
[This piece was published on 18/08/17]