|Ólöf Arnalds «» Sudden Elevation (2013)|
Ólöf Arnalds «» Sudden Elevation
Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Album release: 4 February (UK)/5 March (U.S); 2013
Instruments: Vocals, violin, stroh violin, guitar, charango
Record Label: One Little Indian
01. German Fields (3:50)
02. Bright And Still (3:17)
03. Return Again (3:50)
04. Treat Her Kindly (2:50)
05. Call It What You Want (4:04)
06. A Little Grim (2:56)
07. Fear Less (2:53)
08. Numbers And Names (3:19)
09. Sudden Elevation (3:56)
10. The Joke (1:44)
11. Onwards And Upwards (2:35)
12. Perfect (3:41)
Posted by David Stedman on Thursday, January 10, 2013
¶ Sudden Elevation may be Icelander Ólöf Arnalds’ third album, but it remains a landmark, being her first sung wholly in English. For this I’m awkwardly grateful as reviewing it is my first encounter with her otherworldly brand of folk. However, as a latecomer I find myself trailing behind an influential admirer of Arnalds who has already hit upon the perfect description of her work. When Björk (who duetted with her on Innundir Skinni track ‘Surrender’) said her innocent yet wise songs belonged to one ‘somewhere between a child and an old woman’, she nailed it. Be that as it may, there’s still plenty to take in here with the lovely Ólöf blending bright splashes of poetry in her intense yet graceful tunes.
¶ Arnalds’ choice to walk an all-English path, strumming her charango as she goes, comes as great news in terms of opening up her talent to new perspectives. As she has pointed out, this is also the first album she has completed from an uninterrupted recording session, lending its songs the sense of being drawn as one from a clear pool of inspiration.
¶ The way that her voice sits within the music gives the album a charming, up-in-the-mountains freshness. The exotic warble of Arnalds’ high notes is unlike anything to be heard on a Saturday night television contest, particularly in playful opener ‘German Fields’. Further highlights include ‘Return Again’, a pretty if sad number that plucks the heartstrings, whereas ‘Treat Her Kindly’ has — perhaps expectedly — a reflective, earnest quality. Right in the middle of the album, ‘A Little Grim’ features a beautiful layered-voice part, giving this delicate song a choral, fairytale air. Arnalds’ musical upbringing shines throughout the record, which is inventive, emotional and at all times done in her unique way. Such sincerity and impulsiveness make Sudden Elevation an appealing collection of songs.
¶ This is a satisfying album and whilst Arnalds will doubtless carry on recording and performing in her mother tongue, there is much here to suggest she will be just as successful when she next ventures into English. Her flowing lyrics spring from joyous experimentation, as is so often found when an artist is creating with the freedom that comes with writing in a different language. What is more, Arnalds looks set to continue to inspire as she explores her magical, eerily uplifting creative niche. ¶ (http://www.silentradio.co.uk)
¶ Ólöf Arnalds (born 1980) is an Icelandic singer/songwriter and indie musician who has been active within the Icelandic music scene for quite some time. Apart from her own music and being a touring member of múm since 2003, she has cooperated with bands and artists such as Stórsveit Nix Noltes, Mugison, Slowblow and Skúli Sverrisson.[Between 1988 and 2002 Ólöf studied violin and classical singing, and in 2002-2006 she studied composition and new media at Iceland Academy of the Arts.
¶ In 2007, her debut album Við Og Við was released by 12 Tónar. The album features a set of songs performed mostly in a traditional troubadour style.
¶ Ólöf's second album is Innundir skinni and was released in September 2010.
¶ Ólöf's cousin Ólafur Arnalds is also a well known neo-classical composer.
¶ Ólöf Arnalds has launched a Pledge music campaign for her new record, Sudden Elevation. Her third album, due for release in Febuary 2013, will be her first to feature soley English lyrics. Over to Ólöf.
¶ “As some of you may know, I have spent the last year writing and recording songs – and now it’s finally time to bring it out to the world. By starting this Pledge Campaign I´m finding ways of covering the existing recording costs and to find funding for videos, special edition artwork, recordings of B-sides for singles etc.
¶ The money raised by this campaign will be used to cover the creative costs of the project so by pledging you get to become directly involved with the production of the record, the related singles, videos and artwork. We have put together a few packages for you to pledge on; you are able to pre-order the record, ensure yourself signed copies, limited edition hand-written lyrics, or even one-of-a-kind, signed and especially personalized artwork, VIP concert tickets and more.”
¶ Ólöf Arnalds is an Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist. Classically educated on the violin, viola and self-taught on guitar and charango, Ólöf’s most distinctive asset is, nonetheless, her voice - instantly captivating and possessed of a magical, otherworldly quality. Favourably compared with the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Judee Sill and Kate Bush, Ólöf’s approach to making music remains highly individual: playful but intimate; accessible and uplifting, yet deeply personal and suffused with a timelessness that goes beyond the puckish inscrutability of her native tongue. Ólöf has quickly proved herself a magnetic, self-assured stage performer, reliant as much on vaudevillian charm and even outright bawdiness, as much as the contrasting delicacy of her song delivery.
Press contact: Tones Sansom / US: Samantha Tillman -
Reservé agent: David Levy - / US: Mike Leahy -
• Við Og Við (12 Tónar, 2007)
• Innundir skinni (release September 13, 2010)
• Sudden Elevation (Feb. 2013)
• Ölof Sings (Sept. 2011)
• 7" Maria Bethânia/Sveitin milli sanda (Aug. 2009)
• 7" Innundir skinni/Close My Eyes (Jun. 2010)
• 7" Crazy Car/Sukiyaki (Sept. 2010)
• 7" Surrender/Instans (Mar. 2011)
¶ By Luke Morgan Britton, 18 January 2013 (http://www.thelineofbestfit.com)
¶ Like Joanna Newsom with a Nordic lilt, Arnalds recorded the track while dwelling at seaside cabin in the coastal town of Hvalfjörður. It’s telling too, as she orchestrates silence and commands our emotions in the same vein as her other famous namesake with this delicate lo-fi recording.
¶ When it comes to Icelandic music, the few exports that gain exposure on these shores tend to go down with something close to unabashed devotion – from Björk (and The Sugarcubes) and Sigur Ros to the less well known Mum, 2012 sensations, Of Monsters & Men and the less visible but no less talented Ólafur Arnalds. What then of the latter’s cousin Ólöf Arnalds then?
¶ Fans of Mum may recognise the name as she toured with the band for a period before embarking on a solo career – ‘Sudden Elevation’ is her third album and is being funded through Pledge Music, which works in the same way as Kickstarter.
¶ It falls more into the trad-folk genre and there is very little experimentation here but it all seems effortlessly put together, which instils it with a certain warmth that makes listening to the record a pleasure. It’s highly accomplished and her tender vocal fits the softly picked guitars, brushed drums and strings perfectly.
¶ Lyrically, Arnalds has opted to write exclusively in English for the first time, which should open her up to a wider audience. It’s a wise decision and the poetic, bittersweet lyrics evoke a deep yet unstable love – of a partner and the wider world. “Break of dawn I feel as if my body has returned,” she sings on ‘Return Again’. “Motionless I memorise the beautiful, burning sands of your presence,” increasing the positive emphasis before: “How difficult of me to fall in love with you,” devastates.
¶ The pace remains slow and reflective throughout, the melancholic mood hugely effective on the listener.
¶ The multi-layered vocals of ‘A Little Grim’ help make it a stand-out track. “Let me assure you love will turn out some way,” sings Arnalds with a beguiling confidence.It’s the sort of album that would sound at home on Fence Records, and there are strong notes of Joanna Newsome and Sufjan Stevens evident throughout.
¶ Three albums into a wide and varied career, this is the sound of Arnalds examining life and it turns out that in spite of whatever may conspire tear her apart, she’s happy.
Released on February 4th through One Little Indian in Europe and 5th March in the US.
Posted by Kevin Scott (http://echoesanddust.com).
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