On my recent trip to France, I decided to pass the time reading the French edition of Rolling Stone. In its April issue, a review for Ólöf Arnalds‘ Við Og Við grabbed my attention with this description: “Imaginez une soirée au coin du feu, dans un salon cosy, en plein cœur de l’hiver” (Imagine an evening by the fireside, in a cozy lounge, in the heart of Winter…) Few things have been so evocative to my imagination, as settings like this, and so I pulled out my trusty iPod touch…and I was immediately transported.
I have long enjoyed the dramatic splendor of Icelandic artists like Bjork, Sigur Rós, and Amiina. Ólöf’ is a touring musician with Icelandic stalwarts Múm, and she also worked on this album (as well as her anticipated second album Ókídóki – out sometime this Spring ) with Kjartann Sveinsson of Sigur Rós. Her music is a perfect complement to these. Featuring simple arrangements, traditional instruments (with a few unusual additions like the ukulele), and a lilting, sprightly voice (what Rolling Stone called: “…la musique pour les elfes…), her music exudes calmness and gentility. And yet, in spite of this, it’s not ephemeral. There’s a love of craft, and a seriousness of purpose, that curls about these sounds. It is, as Rolling Stone concluded, “bewitching.”
Have a listen to her song Klara, and then check out some wonderful videos after the cut. You can also hear more of her music at her myspace page.
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Olof_Arnalds-Klara.mp3|titles=Klara] Ólöf Arnalds – Klara
Here’s “Innundir Skinni,” which was recorded for KEXP in Seattle, and re-posted on the SXSW site:
And here’s “Klara” from the same source:
Finally, here’s a nice documentary video from Dig for Fire TV: