Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Ólafur Arnalds has announced his new album, some kind of peace, out November 6th on UK label Mercury KX. The lead lead single ‘We Contain Multitudes (from home)’ and accompanying music video are out now.
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SOME KIND OF PEACE
some kind of peace was born out of the following mantra: “we can’t control anything that happens to us. All we can do is control how we react to what life gives us.” The album is about what it means to be alive, daring to be vulnerable and the importance of rituals. It is a personal journey told through Ólafur’s introspective music, against the backdrop of a chaotic world.
All the collaborators on the album were key to Ólafur’s life during the making of the album, including British musician Bonobo, featured on the album’s luminous pulsing opener, Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist JFDR who Ólafur has admired for years, and his friend Josin, a German singer-songwriter.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
While Ólafur’s previous album, 2018’s re:member, was a technological triumph featuring his ground-breaking, patented, self-playing and semi-generative Stratus Pianos, the beautiful some kind of peace strips back the layers to reveal the human side and the intimate. Ólafur reflected on the music that most inspires him and found that one of the key characteristics is vulnerability. He describes the epistemological shock that led him to the realisation that the world was completely different to what he’d thought.
This trigger prompted him to write about his experiences of the past year and the new life changes and perspectives they brought. By the time the pandemic struck, he had already written half the album, and the rest flowed freely. “This album is almost an awakening for me to a completely new life that I don’t think I would have been ready for otherwise. I’m in a very happy relationship now that I don’t think I would be if I hadn’t had the shock to my system, because I just wouldn’t have been open to it. So this album is very much about love, and not being afraid of it”.
Listen to the album and you’ll hear the hints of those personal experiences, sometimes even the recordings of the significant events themselves. Ólafur weaves real-world pieces of his life story throughout the album, masterfully using sampling techniques to give the listener a window into his experiences. As ever, he showcases his inimitable ability to meld genres, electronically processing classical elements such as the strings on the album.
Th new single “We Contain Multitudes” is a tenderly wrought piano composition. “‘We Contain Multitudes’ was written at a friend’s cabin in a jungle, late at night, on a tiny electric keyboard,” says Ólafur. “At the time I had spent so much time away from what I had considered home, almost setting up a separate life on the other side of the planet. My mind was going through a process of learning to live in two vastly different cultures, of recognising that within one body there are multitudes of different and often contradictory facets of personality. The song remains a reminder that our minds are not constants, the self is ever evolving”. Its video, directed by Blair Alexander, is calming and simplistic, showing Ólafur giving a performance of the track at home.
MADE IN ICELAND
some kind of peace was recorded at his studio at the harbour in downtown Reykjavik. Luckily for Ólafur, the newly designed studio was completed just before lockdown began; he won’t write a fully formed song anywhere else. “I can see the mountains through my window,” he says. “I really believe in how the nature of a space enhances creativity and I hold it quite sacred”. The resulting some kind of peace is Ólafur’s most personal record to date, one that’s open and honest. “It’s so personal that I’m still trying to find the words to talk about it,” he says with a smile. “I felt it was important that the album would tell my story in a very honest way. This album is much closer to my heart than any of the others”.
Follow at Ólafur Arnalds at olafurarnalds.com