Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Þú ert sólin (You Are the Sun)” by Ólafur Arnalds from his 2010 album …and They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness on Erased Tapes.
Over the years Ólafur Arnalds has contributed his talents as a drummer and multi-instrumentalist to a number of Icelandic musical projects. Originally a drummer in hardcore bands like Fighting Shit and Celestine, Arnalds released his first solo effort, Eulogy For Evolution, in early 2007 to favorable reviews and a large-scale tour with fellow countrymen Sigur Ros.
Not unlike Sigur Ros, Ólafur Arnalds music sends the mind packing for beautiful places. Like Pram, Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Arnalds belongs to a canon of (largely) instrumental artists that should be revered as national treasures. The sparsely laid keys and elegantly flow of strings of “Þú Ert Sólin” (translation: “You Are the Sun”) invoke images of serene Icelandic landscapes; these are places where warm water flows beneath frozen rock and only the most essential sounds exist.
Arnalds’ new album, …and They Have Escaped The Weight of The World, is an exercise in raw emotion -– subtly combining the thinnest of post-classical instrumentation with modern beats and loops. At the risk of sounding too hippy-dippy, I fully believe in music as a calming force. The right collection of wavelengths at the right time can conjure images that calm even the choppiest of mental seas. If you’re like me and your waters are often rocky, I recommend keeping this one in your back pocket at all times. It’s beautiful.
Although no specific dates have been announced yet, Ólafur Arnalds is planning to tour the U.S. this winter. Keep checking his MySpace page for updates. We can say for sure, though, that he will be performing next weekend during Iceland Airwaves 2010. And KEXP will also be at Iceland Airwaves next week, bringing you more great artists from this amazing musical microcosm.
For now, here’s a beautifully animated video for “Hægt, kemur ljósið” (or “Slowly, The Light Comes”) also taken from the new album: