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Olof Arnalds

Co-existing alongside her more ambitious and ambient neo-classical outfit, Olafur Arnalds, Iceland’s OLOF ARNALDS (together with a host of her country’s finest exports including SLOWBLOW, MUGISON, Kjartan Sveinsson of SIGUR ROS and Skuli Sverrisson and Eirikur Orri Olafsson, both of MUM), released the surprisingly enterprising and plucky VID OG VID (2007) {*7}, and found a niche market in the nu-folk market.
Born 4th January 1980 in Reykjavik, the sultry Olof embarked on exporting her musical wares further afield to Britain and the continent; the aforementioned debut finally hit Old Blighty in 2009 when she signed a deal with One Little Indian Records. Songs such as `Englar Og Darar’ showed off her pixie-esque larynx to fine effect, while the Megas-penned cue `Orfeus Og Evridis’ was simply and minimalistically delicious; her voice somewhat akin to an alt-celtic BJORK.
The fact that BJORK (on the track `Surrender’) was roped in to guest on her dreamy follow-up, INNUNDIR SKINNI (2010) {*7}, was testament to her heart-on-sleeve twee inspirator. The LEONARD COHEN-like `Crazy Car’, `Madrid’ and `Jonathan’ were flights of freak-folk fancy, the latter more leprechan-esque rather than elvish, while the former became a single that deserved greater rewards.
Arriving on the back of covers EP/mini-CD, `Olof Sings’ (featuring ARTHUR RUSSELL’s `Close My Eyes’, GENE CLARK’s `With Tomorrow’, SPRINGSTEEN’s `I’m On Fire’, NEIL DIAMOND’s `Solitary Man’, DYLAN’s `She Belongs To Me’ and CAETANO VELOSO’s `Maria Bethania’), the shy but not retiring ARNALDS was back on track on subsequent set, SUDDEN ELEVATION (2013) {*7}. Unquestionable set highlight was the wanderingly twee and serene `Call It What You Want’ (duly performed live on Lard’s BBC Radio prog); flighty comparisons to JOANNA NEWSOM or VASHTI BUNYAN arriving forthwith. Cosmically celestial, the singer-songwriter revisited folk via a Baroque or Elizabethan vision, other top tracks coming through the JONI MITCHELL-esque `Treat Her Kindly’, `Perfect’, `A Little Grim’, `German Fields’ and the starry-eyed title tune. One to watch if the idiosyncratic singer takes up the now burgeoning electro/freak-folk route.
Dishing out yet another helping of her cutesy-pie mantras to awaiting elves and Hobbits, 2014’s PALME {*8} was a delightful and delicious exercise in worldbeat and Nordic, ambient-pop. While running at only a half hour and a bit, the ghostly aspect of both her songs and wholesome outer beauty, create something akin to a young-ish BJORK – and other ladies mentioned previously; each track (from the excellent `Half Steady’ and `Defining Gender’ to `Hypnose’ and `Turtledove’) crafted with mischief and medieval mirth.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Oct2013-Nov2014

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