Ólafur Arnalds – “LateNightTales” (2016)

From hardcore punk rock to neoclassical to electronica, it feels like Ólafur Arnalds has experimented with just about every type of musical genre that exists.  At the ripe old age of 29 he finds himself at the forefront of the growing modern classical movement.  As the notes on the back of LateNightTales‘ jacket tell us:

Right now we’re standing at the intersection where techno meets classical music and it sounds mighty fine.

olafurarnaldslatenighttales

I was surprised the other day when I came across this June 2016 release, as I hadn’t seen anything online about Arnalds releasing a new album.  Though, to be fair, LateNightTales isn’t exactly an Ólafur Arnalds project – he’s directly involved in only four of the 18 tracks that make up the double album, three credited as Ólafur Arnalds and one as part of his fantastic ambient electronic duo Kiasmos, all of which appear to be previously unreleased.  The other 14 tracks are contributed by an interesting assortment of artists, a few of who like Samaris, James Blake, Rival Consoles and Hjaltalín that I’m familiar with, but also others who I haven’t heard before.

This latest curated LateNightTales release is pure chill, songs for the evening time when you’re hanging with a small group of friends, or maybe just by yourself, relaxing, talking, unwinding, grooving…  I wasn’t familiar with this series of compilations until checking out the label website and was surprised to see a couple of dozen of the these collections put together by artists like Fatboy Slim, The Flaming Lips, and Django Django, and it’s an interesting concept.  It appears that a number of LateNightTales releases include cover songs by the curating artist, and in Arnalds’ case he teams up with vocalist Arnór Dan of Agent Fresco fame (who was also featured alongside Arnalds on the brilliant track “Old Skin” on For Now I Am Winter) to cover Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” which Arnór handles beautifully.

Arnalds’ own material is, of course, excellent.  But of the artists he selected I came away most impressed with the more uptempo ambient of Rival Consoles’ “Pre” and the rich beats of Jai Paul’s “Jasmine (Demo)”.  Spooky Black’s “Pull” is another high point, with its haunting vocals that seem to float on top of the undercurrent that is the music and the beat that has a surprising kick to it for such an ethereal song.

I’ll have to keep my eyes open for used copies of other albums in the LateNightTales series – it’s a cool concept and I could see getting into some of these if the price is right.

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