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Pitchfork Premiere: Album Track “Half Steady”

Arnalds’ voice surfs calmly on top, a kindergarten teacher surveying a room full of unruly robots – Pitchfork

Palme, the new album by Iceland’s Ólöf Arnalds will be released September 30 via One Little Indian. Ólöf´s most collaborative and profoundly sensual & affecting album to date, Palme offers up an astonishing wellspring of fresh ideas and playful experimentation that move the sound on from the acoustic approach that predominantly defined her first three records, ‘Við og Við’ (2007), ‘Innundir Skinni’ (2009) and ‘Sudden Elevation’ (2013).

On ‘Palme’ Ólöf is sensitively backed by two trusted collaborators and friends; Gunnar Örn Tynes (founder of electro-folk collective, múm) and once again, long-term musical foil, Skúli Sverrisson (who has also worked with luminaries Jon Hassel, Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and Lou Reed).

Gunnar Örn Tynes significant presence on the record is felt through its programmed electronics and the digital manipulation of some of the instrumental parts – new elements that pushed Ólöf out of her comfort zone; for the first time she was writing, performing and recording simultaneously, musical ideas intuitively pieced together or picked apart as they went along. “Skúli, Gunni and I all contributed from our different experience, aesthetic and skills in a very open, straight forward dialogue” says Ólöf. “What worked best musically always ended up in the songs, the darlings were killed with no regrets!”

In many cases the shape of the songs – even chord structures and melodies – were transformed entirely during the six months of the record’s gestation. “It took a lot of trust to let my collaborators so far into my musical expression and at times I found it a bit frightening”, acknowledges Ólöf. “But now when I listen to the record, I feel that the music is no less on my terms than in my previous work. It feels more like out of nowhere, the record I´ve always dreamed of making has become a reality.”

The constant here, of course, is Ólöf’s effortlessly distinctive vocal. A voice “that can silence a room, such is its sweetness” once opined a bowled over Time Out NY, and here on ‘Palme’ it has never been so poignant nor powerfully intoxicating.

Ólöf Arnalds online:

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