Simple ideas are sometimes the most difficult to execute and least rewarding.
One song each day for a week. Written, recorded and performed live online in October 2011 Olafur Arnalds set himself this strange task and invited the world into his living room to witness his success or failure.
…amusing the ear and moving to the heart
And so they did. Thousands of people tuned in to see him perform his neo-classical pieces accompanied by various string ensembles each day (livingroomsongs.olafurarnalds.com). It seems Olafur has a talent for creating exceptionally pleasant works both amusing the ear and moving to the heart, and each of the week’s pieces seem neither rushed nor incomplete; something of a feat given the time constraints.
Conceived as a follow-up to the 2009 release Found Songs, (where he released, for free, a song a day) this time Olafur Arnalds allowed people to watch.
the listener is asked to suspend their more critical faculties
Doubters might well ask why Olafur chose to present his superlative endeavours in such a ‘watch the performing monkey race against the clock to finish a choon’ fashion and why he’d do it twice. After all, doesn’t this mean the listener is asked to suspend their more critical faculties: ‘after all he only had a day’?
We aren’t given a wholly satisfying answer other than to assume that both artist and audience profited from it the first time, so why not do it again? Perhaps he feels the need to add a bit of PR drama, create a bit of story for this release (perhaps he’d actually written the pieces before), or maybe he thought it was a laugh, something to knock out before winter set in. We don’t argue with Kiss for their theatrics and if post-classical indie wants to tart itself up a bit so be it. At the end of the day we aren’t snobs.
Living Room Songs isn’t really supposed to be serious. Like IKEA furniture: unless it offends, it’ll do. As it is these songs are very nice. The way Olafur introduces and then augments a theme through each composition is clearly a nod to his background in loop manipulation and the electronic flourishes are used in a measured supportive role that bears all the hallmarks of Scandinavian electronica. His bio suggests that he has already supplied music for a variety of films, television shows and commercials and the general introspective ambience created on Living Room Songs will undoubtedly find remunerative applications.
background in loop manipulation
At the time of writing this Olafur is on tour with Ryuichi Sakamoto and there are obvious parallels to the master’s work throughout the release. Fans of the Sakamoto’s fertile period around the release of the Sheltering Sky soundtrack will find a lot to appreciate here, and while the young composer may have a ways to go before he reaches the same creative heights, it is a worthy addition to any light classical collection.
Out today on Erased Tapes.
photos by Lisa Roze