Release Date 28/06/2010 (One Little Indian)
By Chris Gilliver
I know that the current abiding image of Iceland is that of a country with no national bank, and an unpronounceable volcano intent on ruining our travel plans (I was in the US at the time and sadly it didn’t strand me there). But ever since a younger manifestation of myself became obsessed with “Agaetis Byrjun”, Iceland will be forever synonymous with music that evokes a landscape beautiful beyond words. Ólöf Arnalds is the latest Icelandic export to continue in that tradition.
Where Sigur Ros create vast, detached, almost choral sounds, “Innundir Skinni” brings something far simpler and more direct. Finger-picked acoustic guitar notes overlaid with a voice that bears more than a passing resemblance to Kate Bush’s deranged utterances (I appreciate that this is something of a cliché), makes this a spare release by comparison. And yet, at their core, both Sigur Ros and Ólöf Arnalds make music of the same kind – that of outstanding prettiness.
For some, Arnalds will be too twee; for others she will provide something that is intimate and irresistible. Wherever you stand she provides a timely reminder that Iceland’s greatest contribution to the world is its extraordinary musical talent, and it is that to which we should be paying attention.