"For Now I Am Winter" by Ólafur Arnalds

April 02. 2013 | By Emily Turner

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Ólafur Arnalds
For Now I Am Winter
[Mercury Classics]

Hailing from Iceland – where epic landscapes are abundant and gorgeous, atmospheric music basically grows on trees (see Sigur Rós, múm, and Sin Fang if you need some convincing) – Ólafur Arnalds has proven himself a force of nature among Reykjavík’s varied music scene. He’s a pioneer of sorts, blurring the boundaries of classical, electronic, and post-rock influences. Some call it neo-classical. Arnalds’ third studio LP For Now I Am Winter, his first on Mercury Classics, harnesses the haunting darkness of Icelandic winter. And it’s entangled with moments of absolute musical clarity.

For Now I Am Winter starts with a bang – or rather, a frantic, swelling sea of strings, and abrupt halt. “Sudden Throw” is a “typical” Ólafur Arnalds work if there ever was one – instrumental, piano/string-heavy, slightly eerie. “Brim” is an extension of the former, but injected with

swirling electronics. Vocals don’t come in until

“For Now I Am Winter.” Though each track is distinct, they flow together seamlessly. It feels strange to discuss Arnalds’ latest endeavor track-by-track because it’s such a cohesive composition. Each sighing, contemplative song melts into the next, outlined in minimal vocals and punctuated with subdued piano intros.

It’s also worth mentioning that For Now I Am Winter is Arnalds’ first album sung in English. It makes sense considering this is arguably his first album with an international following, but I still prefer the lucid flow of instrumentals or his native Icelandic. That being said, “Old Skin” is one of this Owl”s favorite tracks on the album, boring ol’ English included.

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