BAFTA winning Icelandic composer, musician and producer Ólafur Arnalds has released his fourth solo studio album, re:member, out now on Mercury KX. He is currently performing his new material on a huge worldwide tour, which includes two dates at London Palladium on 30 and 31 October.
The album features Ólafur’s Stratus Pianos – two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos which are triggered by a central piano played by Ólafur. The custom-built software is born out of two years of work by the composer and audio developer, Halldór Eldjárn. The algorithms generated from Stratus were also used to create the innovative album artwork.
From the very first note, the album takes the listener on a beautiful musical journey, constantly evolving and enlivening. The record concludes with a track called nyepi – meaning the Balinese ‘Day of Silence’, celebrated on New Year’s Day where everyone shuts themselves off from the outside world.
Yet Ólafur is not shutting himself off – he is inviting the listener to be part of his creative process. Even in his live shows, the audience becomes part of the performance as Ólafur uses a loop machine to capture people singing and seamlessly weaves it into his compositions. He says, “I want to inspire a community of creators with my music.”
During its creation, the album evolved under the influence of a number of collaborators, friends from areas of music that came by his studio in Reykjavík and left a lasting mark on the album. One of them was hip-hop producer BNGERBOY, who’s innovative sound caught Arnalds’ ear and influenced the direction of the album.
“The track brot,” Ólafur explains, “which is orchestral, began with his beat. I started writing chords on top of it. But I ended up removing the beat and left only the orchestra. That track would never have existed without him, even though he’s not on it. But some of his sounds can be heard in other parts of the album.”
That’s fitting, because the title of the album refers in a way to the act of creation, “re:member is about becoming a member of yourself again which I feel my journey for this album was, very much so. I was discovering all these different sides of myself, my creativity, my taste and interests.”