sun 26/09/2021

CD: Kiasmos | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kiasmos

CD: Kiasmos

After soundtracking Broadchurch, Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds collaborates with Faroese foil

The 'Kiasmos' album: despite an aural tempest, stillness at its core

As vaporous as the haze on its cover, the sound of Kiasmos resonates like clouds sweeping across low mountain peaks, intermittently breaking into a storm or opening to reveal wan sunlight. Although firmly within the boundaries of electronica, the self-titled debut instrumental album by Kiasmos still beats with an organic heart.

There are touches of a Balearic pulse on “Looped”, a pattering glitchiness on “Lit” and even a hard house beat opening and punctuating the acid-esque “Swayed”. But live drums, grand piano, viola, violin and cello temper the wash of electronics and softly throbbing keyboards. Rather than being about melody or its rhythms, Kiasmos is dedicated to building atmosphere. The realms conjured are as dark as the cover image: under water, within caverns or low in a night-time sky above an open, unpopulated landscape. Suitably, “Bent” ends with an aural tempest.

The duo behind Kiasmos are the Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds – fresh from being awarded a BAFTA for his Broadchurch score – and the Faroese (though resident in Iceland) electronicist Janus Rasmussen. They first began collaborating in 2007 and the album culminates a long-gestating association: two EPs were issued in 2009 and 2012. Arnalds has engineered live sound for Rasmussen’s electro duo Bloodgroup and is best known for his minimalist, piano-driven orchestrated electronica. As well as being with Bloodgroup, Rasmussen is one half of the terrific Faroese electropop outfit BYRTA. While recognisably Arnalds-ian, Rasmussen has brought a distinct rhythmic boldness to Kiasmos. Both musicians are restless, yet the album has stillness at its core. Dig in, and become enfolded. It’s a certainty that film makers, hunting for soundtracks, will be too.

The realms conjured are as dark as the cover image: within caverns or low in a night-time sky

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