01 – Ólafur Arnalds: Living Room Songs (Erased Tapes) [9.9]
I don’t seem to be in agreement with most of the critics out there this year, as I have placed an album at the top of the pile, which they have generally had within the OK to less than OK bracket. That in keeping with the fact that the critics’ choice this year was Frank Ocean and Channel Orange, which is easily the worst album I’ve heard all year means I don’t seem to be on the same page as them this year.
I truly don’t understand how I can read grades of 4.5 for this album, when it is a truly wonderful album, its only weakness being that it comes in at under 30 minutes, depriving me of at least another 15 minutes of Arnalds’ geniality.
The second album in the top three composed by an Icelandic artist, the second purely instrumental album in the top three and the second in the three recommended by Barry Napier, so many thanks for your involvement in the chart this year (I’ll be writing a post, summing up his, mine and Ian Stackhouse’s combined in a few days).
So the instrumentals win out this year, as they did in 2009 with Sufjan Stevens at number one and, as mentioned earlier, this seems to definitely be a year of music to chill/work to.
However, you may well be asking why it is I have an album rated quite low by other critics (with the exception of Barry Napier) as my number one of the year and for me it’s quite simple. A concept I was intrigued by was that this was a seven track album composed over seven days – a track for each day of the week – and then posted on YouTube. An area where I think it might have found criticism is the belief that great music needs time to create, develop and produce.
I’m obviously not a subscriber to this, not only due to my number one of the year but because I have also had another similar artist, Chad VanGaalen, up there in a previous year’s best of. I think if you make great music you make it in whatever time it needs to be made.
And Arnalds knows his stuff, he has an ear for the fantastic and it’s no surprise that he has been commissioned to do film soundtracks and that his, arguably, best track on this album is entitled Film Credits. But it’s not just film that seems to inspire him but also contemporary classical music. In the same way I think that Sigurðsson reminds me of Górecki, I also think that Arnalds has a touch of Patrick Doyle at his best.
The album is both wondrous and melancholic, the melancholic being one of my favourite types of tune and I love what Arnalds has done with Living Room Songs, (aptly named title) and being as the album is so short, I just feel the need to keep to clicking the repeat button upon the album’s end.
If I’m going to name the album’s highlights, I’m going to name all seven tracks, as all are: sublime, beautiful, magical, atmospheric and genial.
I give you the album of the year for 2012. Get more information and your copy here: http://livingroomsongs.olafurarnalds.com/