“Under The Radar” – Ólafur Arnalds

Ladies and gents of OIW, we would like to introduce you to a man known only as Keefy. More than a man really, but he is charged with bringing you the sounds that probably haven’t made it to your ears yet. In this, the first “Under The Radar”, Keefy brings you up to date with some of Iceland’s current happenings, namely one Ólafur Arnalds. Over to you Keef…



It’s cold, dark and pouring with rain. I can’t see out of the windscreen. I’ve driven 70 miles. And I’m in Leeds on a Sunday night. Now it takes something special to drag me out of my comfort zone but my slightly obsessive nature concerning things Icelandic has stirrred my inquisitive nature, so I am on the trail of one Olafur Arnalds who is performing somewhere in this sodden Yorkshire town. All roads are leading nowhere so, in desperation, I enquire of a hooded gentleman clutching a skateboard, if he knew where the Brudenell Social Club was located. Saints be praised -said angelic guide was actually wending his weary way there!! Later I am fortified by a reasonably priced lager watching the support act wondering if this exceptionally cool looking student audience know what to expect!

I became aware of Olafur Arnalds having seen a mention on Sigur Ros’s myspace link and liked the cut of his cloth “breaking classical music out of the tweed jacket and trainers and into t-shirt and trainers”. This, of course, could be pretentious rubbish or it might just be special . My trust in Icelandic cool and the myspace tunes set me in search of his two albums “Variations of Static” and Eulogy for Evolution”. All my fears were dispelled when his cds were aired. From the first notes it was clear that this was of a high calibre. Evocative ,awesome, elegant chamber music built for today. Quietly behind the cellos and violins you pick out the subtle beats and the occasional hushed voice layered back in the mix. This is perfect music. Mornings, evenings, late night walking , driving or chilling with that single malt (Old Pultney recommended). All well and good, me in raptures, but how would the 21 year old genius and his music fare live in front of a University audience and at the end of a supercharged festival weekend at the happening Brudenell?

The support finished and folks wandered off for a fag and a beer, the stage cleared and a keyboard set up. “Oh dear just him” I worried. A handful of us took prime seats but within minutes you couldnt find a chair – coats were thrown down and every inch of floor was filled. I looked around as the lights dimmed and Olafur sat behind his piano and joy upon joy, he was followed on stage by his string quartet. No one moved for 50 heaven sent minutes. I need not have been concerned. Each piece was greeted with reverential applause and, rock and roll we may love, but this was pure magic!

STOP PRESS: Folks check  this out I LOVE IT- KIASMOS/RIVAL CONSOLES – 65/MILO (12”/Download) for Pre-Order now!

Ólafur Arnalds’ new minimal techno side project KIASMOS shares split 12” debut with label colleague Ryan Lee West aka RIVAL CONSOLES. You can preview and pre-order it in Erased Tapes’ online store: http://store.erasedtapes.com

‘I am really enthusiastic about this project. Finally, I can make music that the people can dance to’, explained Arnalds in an interview with the German electronic music magazine Beat.

Cheers Keefy!


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