Ólafur Arnalds is a drummer in different rock and rock styles before turning to classical music or rather to a modern multi-layered synthetic form. In it, the classical is embedded in the very foundation in which the piano coexists with etheric synthesizers, the violins are announced by electronic rhythm, with an emphasis on slow and smooth progression. The intertwining of events, of experiences with sound, sneaks in behind many of the metamorphoses that the Icelandic artist goes through.


Known today as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, experimenter and producer, Arnalds receives a proposal from a record company for his debut solo album. He gets it after making his first attempt at a neoclassically essentially works designed for intro and outro (Intro - Outro), also introducing the final song of another album, made by a German metal band. Also accepts the proposal in 2007 with Eulogy for Evolution his solo career begins.


Two years later, health problems, accompanied by a doctor's ban on playing, led to the formation of the duo "Kiasmos". As an integral part of "Kiasmos", the artist continues to be actively involved in music. Although he openly admits in interviews that the techno project fills the time until his recovery, the then-successful duo's world tour changed the way he perceived the creation process: it reminded him of the pleasure of writing. Gradually, the problems subside and he returns to solo performances and creative endeavors. With a renewed look, more and more actively, he includes elements from different and close genres in seemingly minimalist and most often instrumental compositions, without losing the sense of the whole story that his albums tell.

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For a little over a decade, Olafur Arnalds has been producing artists, collaborating with performers and artists. A significant example here is the project 2016's Island Songs, works for television and movie productions. He was awarded the BAFTA by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for his music on the British Broadchurch series. And he continues to compose, and overlay piano, string instruments with electronic tones, successfully expressing the emotional as well: expressing it in a melody.

From the book "Iceland As it is"

Behind him turning to the piano, key to his creative development, lies another personal story. While playing as a drummer and playing rock, his grandmother often invites him to his home, always asking him to: fix his broken radio. The radio turns off, but it works. Chopin's works are played in the house. Visits become a tradition. And on her deathbed, hours before she left, Olafur Arnalds and his grandmother were listening to the same music.


In 2015, an album was released dedicated to her and, of course, The Chopin Project. Here, together with the pianist Alice Sara Ott, they recreate classical works, add completely new ones, bring them together in conceptual unity. For this purpose they use a palette of modeling modern solutions. Critical evaluations are positive and welcoming. Invariably, it has grown in popularity over the next three years. But in the end, the memories of the time he touches on the Polish composer's covenants leave their mark. Arnalds told us about them during the concert in Warsaw. The concert is part of a tour to support his new album - "Re: member" (2018).


"Re: member" is a new step in the development of the composer. The album was born after a long and seemingly hopeless creative crisis. He appeared in response to his unsuccessful attempts and with the development of the Stratus software, the invention of a "three-piece piano", together with Halldór Eldjárn. The idea originated earlier - in 2011, when Olafur Arnalds clashed with a piano that plays music automatically, with the keys moving alone. At the time, he was touring Asia with Japanese composer Sakamoto and could not play due to his poor health, as has already been said. The initial joke that the ghostly and fully automated instrument solves its problems leads to the purchase of two of the pianos in question. It also led to the production of software, thanks to which the Icelandic manages to end the crisis, but also to distinguish himself from traditional piano writing and playing.

In front of the Warsaw audience, in front of the crowded hall in the city that houses the Chopin Museum and Heart, Olafur Arnalds' abilities to manage a series of instruments seamlessly, as well as the effects of the mainstream piano program, were clear: audible but also visual. By pressing a key on the master piano located in the center, the artist triggers a series of actions, sounds, tones for the other two, connected and automatically playing, the previously purchased pianos. They are located at the left and right ends of the stage and build the "periphery" of the composition, repelling as if on an echo principle, with melodic jumps and falls, consistent hurries and delays.


In addition to the musical performance, the software itself also controls some of the lighting: spotlights aimed at the audience, which pulsate in sync with the melody without intruding. The lights in question are also featured on the cover of the new album. Either way, the syncretic performance places the musician in the role of a symptomatic "conductor" who handles a mechanism that unfolds the melody and its visual expression, allowing him to be in several places at once.


Olafur Arnalds also performed works from his previous projects. He didn't miss Poland either. He wrote the song during a previous tour with his band in Poland and after an unpleasant night trip to Poznan. Here is the place to mention that on stage the artist is supported, surrounded by a group of musicians who do not accompany, but perform key moments in the concert and help the string instruments of the recordings to "come to life". "


Both the magnificent concert and the current lyrics and the album recall moments from the artist's past. "Re: member" - the name indicates it - is a journey of memories, melodies that grow. They move like pieces of memory, pulling the piano to the fore and pulling it away, at the expense of stringed instruments and programmed ghostly "doubles". The atmosphere that pervades his designs and which is usually and invariably resembles melancholy, although it could hardly be closed in one word, in one unchanging state, is different here. The album is bound to be colorful, but still unique, with plenty of acoustic depth - because of Arnalds' mastery, because of his new composing methods, and partly because of the input from other genres. The main point, however, lies elsewhere: in the unfolding of the composition, in the almost symphonic volume of tracing the theme of the work and the album as a whole.


Before the incredible performance of the Icelandic and his band, the audience welcomed Hania Rani. Her music - rich in temperament, fast-paced, original solo piano works - is close to the main act of the concert, but also different. Perhaps the neoclassical of both composers is related to them insofar as Rani relies more on dynamics, focusing on motive. A motif that repeats and displaces with which it plays, with the sharpness of individual accents that crystallize throughout the arch of tones. While at Arnalds, similar accents are given to individual moments and instruments. Amazingly, and in essence far from being the only preparation, her presentation was. The tickets for her upcoming concert in Warsaw were deservedly sold out.


We could continue with the memories that change us, but after what has been said, it is better to hear the music…

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