Ólafur Arnalds is one of the most influential musicians of modern times: a world-colliding, multi-faceted talent, who has paved the way across the electronic and classical worlds. Arnalds’ endless thirst for the challenge has also seen him compose dance scores for Wayne MacGregor at Sadler’s Wells, win a BAFTA for his work on ‘Broadchurch’, and receive an Emmy nomination just last week for his title theme to ‘Defending Jacob’.
Ólafur Arnalds’ ability to find moments of peace and tranquillity is a constant in his otherwise unpredictable career to date. He started out writing compositions for a German metal band, before supporting Sigur Rós and forging an oeuvre full of innovations. His 2007 debut album documented life’s journey from birth to death, with projects ever since ranging from 2016’s ‘Island Songs’ (seven songs made in seven different Icelandic towns, in seven days) to forming one-half of the experimental techno duo, Kiasmos. Having collaborated extensively with German pianist/composer Nils Frahm, Ólafur’s last album – 2018’s ‘re:member’ – proved yet another breakthrough: a technological triumph, it featured his groundbreaking, self-playing and semi-generative Stratus Pianos, whilst growing Arnalds’ extensive audience around the world. Few contemporary acts, after all, would be at home doing all this as they are covering Iggy Pop’s show on 6Music, and performing at festivals like Wilderness, Rock Werchter, and All Together Now.
Ólafur returns with a deeply beautiful new video for ‘New Grass’. In true Arnalds fashion, this video unfolds at its own pace, a skeletal, yet utterly intoxicating composition that exhibits an entirely natural sense of grace.
‘New Grass’ has been given the visual treatment, with photographer Benjamin Harman honing in on the world of Icelandic moss. Using a macro lens, the pair honed in on these microscopic elements and found that when water – such as rain – hits the moss it creates movement, akin to dance. Building a narrative around this, ‘New Grass‘ explores the morphology of plants and finds something beautifully human in one of the foundational building blocks of life.
To me, ‘New Grass’ represents revival, growth, and exploring new paths. So when Benjamin showed me some experiments he had been making, exploring how moss reacts to water, I instantly felt that this minuscule world would be the perfect way to express that.
Cover photo: (c) Marino Thorlacius