Olafur Arnalds
...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness


4.5
superb

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
May 7th, 2010 | 60 replies | 19,391 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ... And then complete silence, everything that lives is still. Are the hills going to march off? Will Heaven fall upon us? Will the Earth open under us? We don't know, for a total eclipse has come upon us...

It’s a wonder that something as mature as what Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds has released can come from a guy who is only 23 years old. His ear for wonderful, lasting neoclassical pieces was first displayed on his debut album Eulogy For Evolution, which worked his piano and string arrangements in with guitars and drums for a sound which wasn’t quite honest-to-goodness neoclassical, but was certainly profound in showcasing Arnalds’ talent. With his newest album …And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness, Arnalds goes with a minimalist, hugely atmospheric approach which plods along at a snail’s pace, only breaking to crest momentarily at glorious crescendos that slip back as quickly as they came. It’s not technical prowess at its most intimidating, no, but it is an exercise in how to write a good, bleak neoclassical album.

…And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness isn’t intent on going all over the map; it doesn’t want to clutter the album with multitudes of moods and influences. Instead, Arnalds focuses on a single point and encompasses everything therein. The piano chords are powerful; the strings are moving. They’re all pieces to the impressively large puzzle (just less than 44 minutes) that are both enthralling and noticeably well-executed. The string arrangements are only a subtle touch that really exemplifies the mood of any given song, and the extras like the drums and minor synth effects (see “Gleypa Okkur”, one of the most captivating tracks on the album) make the last half of the album standout from the rest. Indeed, the first half of the album is a bit dull and may seem rather lifeless, yet it is only laying out a foundation for a concept that soon comes into brilliant fruition. This is most certainly an intentional buildup, with the first few songs being relatively benign as they slowly swell in multiple waves but never raise an aggressive hand, before that swell becomes a consuming torrent of radiant strings or shimmering keys by the time the album climaxes.

It’s nice, then, to hear the pace quicken by the time the uplifting “Hægt, Kemur Ljósið” comes around, because it shows another side to Arnalds than what many people are used to hearing. Instead of the dark, depressive tracks that he places at the start of the album, these songs are filled with a sense of joy, and are an absolute treat to listen to. Despite some stagnation in the first five songs, the album as a whole is a resounding success for Arnalds, and further proof that he is one of the best up-and-coming composers around. He’s toured with post-rock band Sigur Ros, he’s sold out The Barbican Hall (the largest performing arts center in Europe), and his music is so down-to-earth and real that you wouldn’t guess any of that. …And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness is one of my personal favorites of the year thus far, a beautiful piece of music - pure music, real music - that simply should not be missed.



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user ratings (175)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2010



16028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am shocked that Sputnik didn't freak out with all of the non-English characters in the song titles. Album is great.

Digging: Katatonia - Kocytean

TheSpirit
May 7th 2010



16671 Comments


Cool kinda sounds like Heinali. Shall be checking outt

Digging: Sexdrome - Grown Younger

Bitchfork
May 7th 2010



7584 Comments


pos

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2010



16028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album probably won't get the recognition it deserves. Shame.

TheSpirit
May 7th 2010



16671 Comments


I've been really into orchestral music lately, so this sounds soooo good right now

BigTuna
May 7th 2010



5152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

summery summerize? and eulogy for evolution rules, I'll have to check this out

Digging: Future - Honest

theacademy
May 7th 2010



27703 Comments


and then there was you, and so i watch you from afar...and they will know us from the trail of dead...and oceans...and stars collide

-andrew w.k.

Relinquished
May 7th 2010



22440 Comments


so yeah instead of an eclipse I thought it was an ouroboros

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2010



16028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and eulogy for evolution rules, I'll have to check this out

If you liked that album you'll definitely love this.

BigTuna
May 7th 2010



5152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awesome blossom

YouAreMySilence
May 7th 2010



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A new Olafur Arnalds record? Need! Variations Of Static is amazing.

BigTuna
May 7th 2010



5152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yay!

jesusjuice1179
May 7th 2010



1784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i didn't even know he was releasing a new album, looking forward to listening to this

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 7th 2010



3743 Comments


this is a very good review, i didn't realize before how much you've improved

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 8th 2010



16028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank a lot, I appreciate it. I like to think I've left my pretentious, over-the-top reviews behind me.

MrCalum
July 2nd 2010



371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening to this right now! loved eulogy.

Deathcar
November 10th 2010



1534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't enjoy this as much as Eulogy, but it's still great. Will probably grow on me and end up being a 4.5 tbh.

BigTuna
December 9th 2010



5152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

he is coming to my school

beefshoes
December 9th 2010



2146 Comments


I am jealous.
This man is a genius in my eyes.

UnnamedOcean
January 15th 2011



3932 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can't get enough of this guy. Iceland is making amazing music these days.

I'm not gay but I would have sex with Olafur Arnalds.



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