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A multi-instrumentalist, composer and record producer, Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic musician who has had two distinct careers. Arnalds made a name for himself as a professional musician playing in hardcore rock bands such as Celestine, among others, in which he would drum often-frenetic rhythms. More recently, the performer has moved into ambient electronica and pop music. Much of his output now relies on delicate piano loops, which he then processes sonically to create new sounds. His piano work is frequently arranged over a string section, which provides Arnalds’ music with a great deal of harmonic variation. Born in 1986, the composer is capable of playing the guitar and the banjo, as well as keyboards and drums.
Olafur Arnalds' career milestones
Arnalds first got into making string-based music in his studio when he was invited to create some lavish opening and closing music to an album by Heaven Shall Burn, the German heavy metal band. Arnalds’ work can be heard on their album Antigone. Essentially, the group had created a classical type of sound themselves for the intro and outro sections of the LP but did not like its rather thin, keyboard-generated sound. Knowing Arnalds from the hard rock scene, they asked him to rearrange their ideas, and the results pleased both parties.
In 2007, Arnalds released an LP named Eulogy for Evolution in his newly emerging style. Praised by some in the Icelandic music press, the musician followed this up with a widely listened to EP, Variations of Static. Later that year, Arnalds went on tour with Sigur Ros, his fellow countrymen, and then made another collaboration with Heaven Shall Burn. In 2010, the composer returned with a new studio album, And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness. Two years later, the musician signed a deal with Universal Music to produce work for their Mercury Classics label. This led to a soundtrack album that was used for the film Another Happy Day.
In 2013, Arnalds composed music used for the popular British crime drama Broadchurch. For this composition, he won the 2014 BAFTA TV Craft Award. The musician has since gone on to collaborate with the likes of Janus Rasmussen, in a project known as Kiasmos, and the classical pianist Alice Sara Ott, among others. In 2016, he put out a new album that was made entirely from creative collaborations with other artist and musicians. This LP was called Island Songs and involved him travelling to multiple locations around Iceland to produce differing sounds.
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