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As my uncle Olafur used to say . . .

| January 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Upper-crust classical music audiences certainly didn’t enjoy punk rock’s entrance into pop culture, but they got to watch from a distance as beer-guzzling jocks and classic rockers did the dirty work. Well now they have a punk in their house with Olafur Arnalds.

Arnalds isn’t all that threatening, and in fact looks as if Michael Cera could take him out. But what drives his gate-crashing spirit is what he sees as barriers that both keep worthy musicians out of classical circles which in turn suffocates new ideas from infilitrating an increasingly dead language. Ironically, the wall Arnalds wants to tear down is musicianship itself, at least of the classically trained variety.

For several years, the 25-year-old Icelander has been crafting melancholy soundscapes that he feels should fit under a number of umbrellas. His persistence is starting to pay off for his older work (he’s performed at several prestigious European venues and even choreographed music for esteemed dance producers), but, true to savants, as he gains acceptance his new output makes twists.

And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness caters directly to the surging ranks of indie-pop fans, though, remember, he’s a composer so each track has a responsibility to the album as a whole. Still, where his early works could be ponderous and overwhelming, Darkness has an overall lightness that separates it from “poppier” works by Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky. (Sunday@Museum Of Contemporary Art.)

— Steve Forstneger

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