Kiasmos Kiasmos

[Erased Tapes; 2014]

Styles: progressive house, ambient breakbeat, neo-classical
Others: Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm, Owen Pallett, Hybrid

In Kiasmos, BAFTA-winning composer Ólafur Arnalds and electro-pop producer Janus Rasmussen (Bloodgroup) combined their distinctive talents and common taste for minimal experimental electronic music to create a work that embodies the stunning mystical magnitude of the Nordic landscape.

Made in Reykjavík, Iceland at Arnalds’ own studio, there are eight tracks on the eponymous Kiasmos debut that average over six minutes in length, tied together through their form: their delicately layered ambience, pulsing flourishes of 4/4 and broken beats, and minimalist progressions and repetitions of stately piano and violin in a Satie or Glass style. These driving beats combine with neo-classical craftsmanship to send the mind soaring through the clouds amidst snow-capped mountain peaks jutting into the misty twilight, as if the claws of our mother beast were testing the integrity of a great egg before breaking free into a new plane of existence.

The album is as far away from the brooding, glacial neo-classical arrangements of Arnalds’s 2010 album …And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness as it is from his pop-tronic-oriented 2012 record For Now I Am Winter. It feels like a more organic melding of digital and classical arrangements, unburdened by overbearing vocals or melodic flights of fancy. Its interwoven simplicity and restraint deepens its evocative nature, the disparate nature of its effects, synthesis, and drum machines washing by on equal footing with live drumming, string quartet, and grand piano. Flowing effortlessly from start to finish, it has the ineffably emotional resonance and compelling beats to make listeners cry on the dance floor.

It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the Kiasmos debut came out at the same time as the 20th anniversary of Underworld’s classic Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Kiasmos has the feel of one of those albums that electronic heads will continue to celebrate with each passing decade, a work incomparable to any of its contemporaries that elevates the conversation for them all.

Links: Erased Tapes

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