Album Review :: Ólafur Arnalds ‘For Now I Am Winter’
May 28th 2013
In For Now I Am Winter Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Ólafur Arnalds employs soaring string arrangements, masterfully minimal, typically poignant piano melodies and crunchy beat loops to take the listener on a journey through a wintery inner landscape. Ólafur Arnalds seems to conjure so much of what is captivating about the Icelandic landscape in this record – the solitude and the sublime.
Flowing elegantly between tracks, the largely orchestral and minimal classical sound of the record is interestingly juxtaposed by Arnalds’ use of craggy and distinctively contemporary beat loops.
Refreshingly underused and withheld, the earthy, almost underground beats bring something of the volcanic and tectonic to the landscape painted for us. As a former drummer in hardcore and metal bands, Arnalds’ ability to capture the fragile and the frosty has always been a delightfully curious one. In For Now I Am Winter we have evidence that his ability has only matured with time.
A notable presence on the album is that of vocalist Arnór Dan (frontman of Icelandic group Agent Fresco). Dan’s delicate yet imperious voice drifts in and out of the record like lightly humming thoughts through the mind of a lone traveller in a wind-swept world. Whilst his vocals are certainly the most obvious element of distinction between this and Arnalds’ previous releases, they are not the only thing that sets this a part as Arnalds’ most complete work to date. Although Arnalds’ previous works do admittedly explore similar terrain sonically, For Now I am Winter is certainly the most balanced of his releases in terms of the emotional terrain traversed. A lonesome journey, it is as much about the awe that can be derived from solitude as the anguish; As much about enduring the harsh winter around us as it is about savouring the crisp sun in its shards as it leans fleetingly over the horizon in our darker months.
Uplifting, unassuming and utterly beautiful. For Now I am Winter is available now.