Olafur Arnalds
For Now I Am Winter


3.5
great

Review

by Jacob R. STAFF
March 1st, 2013 | 63 replies | 10,533 views


Release Date: 02/25/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We too shall rest.

Nobody would blame Olafur Arnalds for being tired. In the last five years, the Icelandic composer has released five EPs and two full-lengths, scored three films and toured relentlessly across the globe. And while all he’s created has been pretty enough, his most recent projects have felt pretty uninspired. If Arnalds were to falter, it’d be unsurprising for the event to occur on the verge of all this activity. But For Now I Am Winter is a true gem, and easily the most cutting-edge album of the musician's career.

For Now I Am Winter is a tangible representation of throwing paint against a wall, and seeing what sticks. The album is full-fledged sonic experimentation at its finest, mostly because Olafur Arnalds adds vocals to the mix, a la his musical neighbor Arnór Dan. Nobody expected the transition to be perfectly smooth, either: there were bound to be some bumps in the road as the Icelandic musician adjusts his timbre a bit. The addition is mostly welcomed, though, because the vocals add an active energy to the mostly cyclical melodies. The standout example “Old Skin” just wouldn’t be the same without its vocals, which emphasize the musical shifts and give them pivotal meaning. The song’s stark redress half-way through wouldn’t be as memorable without Dan’s singing, and its buildup that hints at a stylistic switch. And the album's greatest moment comes with the singer's cry of "We too shall rest," in a serene falsetto that perfectly captures the goal for which the entire album's aiming.

Elsewhere, though, the newly implemented vocals don’t carry as much weight as they’d like. To put it simply, there are times where they serve little purpose. “For Now I Am Winter” actually would hold just as much weight without the sung refrain, and may even be more enjoyable with an instrumental emphasis. And for every time the vocals shouldn’t exist, there’s another time in which they would make the instrumental tracks more definitively enjoyable. See, the issue is that the songs lacking vocals still feel built for a lead melody. When it doesn’t come, the track merely exists, unable to make any lasting impression on the listener. Fortunately, Arnalds has made some instrumental gems to dilute the more forgettable tracks. “Hands, Be Still” is just as delicate as its title, with syncopated echoes giving way to one of the most serene tracks in the musician’s discography. It seems Ólafur has learned something vital from this album, the fact that his music will be powerful as long as it maintains some sense of direction.

What makes For Now I Am Winter different from its predecessors is its vibrant hues. No longer are we dealing with the grayscale ambiance that comprised most of ...And They Have Escaped..., either. No, Arnalds’ latest deals with more vivid colors, from cerulean seas to blonde sheens of sunlight. And part of this stems from the composer instilling a sense of purpose to his work. There’s a light to guide Ólafur Arnalds’ music now, and it's allowing him to escape the darkness in a way he'd never quite imagined.



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user ratings (101)
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3.7
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Grayson Hale (4)
"For Now I Am Winter" is a bold step forward for Ólafur, adding an impressive amount of variety int...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The great video for "Old Skin" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXkc2GLPl6I

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

zxlkho
March 1st 2013



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hmmmm, from your blog post I thought you would have rated it higher. Pretty good review though.

I'm not sure I agree about the vocals. I really dig them.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks. I really like the vocals, but I feel they're used curiously.

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


You have the weirdest opinions sometimes man. Especially on Loscil.

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


Jk ilya bb

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Y'know, I really liked this release... 3.5's a positive score

seedofnothing
March 1st 2013



3425 Comments


will these be re-featured being that it already was before?

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


WEIRD

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I can't say, man. I have seen multiple reviews of the same album be featured, though, so I wouldn't be surprised!

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


I mean your blog post made it seem like you were going to praise this and then seeing the 3.5 is confusing

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

In the blog post, I said his new album may just be the most innovative, something like that, which I still agree with. I don't see your point.

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


Maybe I was expecting a higher rating? Something like this made it a bit confusing:

What makes For Now I Am Winter different from its predecessors is its vibrant hues. No longer are we dealing with the grayscale ambiance that comprised most of ...And They Have Escaped..., either. No, Arnalds’ latest deals with more vivid colors, from cerulean seas to blonde sheens of sunlight.


and yet you gave that one the same rating as this. Nitpicking here I'm just confused ;P

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


Perhaps I'm just the nitpicky bastard today

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's cool that you somehow remembered my rating of his previous album, but I had my ratings wiped for a couple of reasons, first being that most of my opinions have changed!

And that quote doesn't necessarily say this album's better than the other one. It's just saying it's more blatant in its mood.

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


whateva, it's cool! I kind of liked his last album but it was too repetitive. This one sounds different though....

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, I admire the big change this album brings. Some of his best songs are here for sure.

I love "Old Skin," "Reclaim," "Brim" and "Hands Be Still" the most.

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


And yeah, dunno how i knew that about your rating haha :S

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

You stalk the right people, that's how!

mindleviticus
March 1st 2013



8218 Comments


ALL TO ONE DAY EXPOSE YOU FOR THE FRAUD YOU ARE

jklolswagyolo#420420420blazeit

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013



10055 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I LEAVE ALL THAT I OWN TO MY CAT GUPPY



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