Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Some Kind of Peace (Piano Reworks) effectively toys with Ólafur Arnalds previous compositions

"Some Kind of Peace (Piano Reworks)"

Release date: 28 October 2022
Ólafur Arnalds - Some Kind of Peace (Piano Reworks) cover
11 November 2022, 00:00 Written by Ray Honeybourne

This is a set of interpretations by an assortment of artists of the tracks from Ólafur Arnalds’s 2020 album Some Kind of Peace.

The result is a slightly uneven mix of reworks, some diverging quite strikingly from the originals. However, all involved have given some thought to the range of possible directions, and the record as a whole is a clear recognition and appreciation of Arnalds’s observation that “a piece of music can take on any form, evolve and breathe with whomever is playing it.”

The track order on the 2022 release mirrors that of the original. Icelandic pianist-composer Eydís Evensen’s take on opener “Loom” translates Arnalds’s and Bonobo’s jaunty synth-based composition into a more stately-paced classical piece that convinces in its own terms, with strings used to good effect, as they were on her own debut album Bylur last year.

Hanka Rani’s re-imagining of “Woven Song” stays close to the 2020 version, with some subtle rhythmic variations. It’s a gentle re-presentation, nuanced certainly but rather lacking in terms of providing a completely new perspective, and highlights the overall point that the most successful pieces here are those that, though rooted in Arnalds, take some adventurous exploratory turns.

Lambert’s version of “Back to the Sky” is a good illustration of creative re-thinking. The beautiful, fragile vocal of JFDR from two years ago here gives way to delicate percussive effects that work so well. One hears the impress of the source, yet appreciates the well expressed deviation. It’s one of the finest tracks on the new album, demonstrating that a considered approach does not have to be especially radical to prove convincing.

Arnalds’s own “Zero” has a lively gentle piano introduction leading into more forceful electronics before the string-based dying fade. Alfa Mist’s rendering has a more emphatic piano, with a forceful rhythm that, like Lambert’s piece, has echoes of 2020 without losing any sense of its independent worth. The lack of electronica gives the new version a vigour that makes it a fine complement to the first recording, yet also intrinsically convincing.

Arnalds’s 2020 “New Grass” has rippling piano around which the strings (especially Unnur Jónsdóttir’s cello) work so ravishingly. The rearrangement by tstewart is more complex, with a very different set of emphases on keyboards, with a hint of harpsichord, yet it works so well, at times holding just back from excess such that the variety of sounds retains its sense of unity.

JFDR’s breathy vocals on 2022’s “The Bottom Line” create a more fearful, almost spectral atmosphere than did Josin’s two years earlier; very different but equally valid. The spare piano now is an exquisite accompaniment.

The finest tracks here take Arnalds’s creations to newer places, some a little risky perhaps but all the more praiseworthy and all the more effective for just that.

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