featuring: Kings of Leon, Third Eye Blind, Aaron Neville, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, Gary Clark Jr., Alanis Morissette, The Bangles, Violent Femmes, Margaret Glaspy, The Revolution, Trampled by Turtles, and Allen Stone
In a welcome bit of respite from an increasingly noisy, mad world, young Icelandic composer/pianist Ólafur Arnalds performed his meditative piano-led modern ambient/classical instrumental work at Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church this past Friday evening. The sold-out show was his first in the city in five years, the iconic Gothic church serving as an apt venue for his delicate soundscapes, making good use of its vaulted ceiling and natural reverb. Now just over ten years into his solo career, he’s built a devoted audience in Los Angeles, their reverence evidenced by relatively little talking or camera phone usage, waiting until song breaks before entering and leaving the main room, and pausing until a song’s reverb tails completely extinguish until applauding.
On the brief eight-date North American tour, dubbed the “All Strings Attached” tour, he is augmented for the first time by an able string quartet as well a percussionist to bolster the sound as needed. An equally key component of the performance is his unique “Player Pianos” set up with three pianos on stage: sound from his primary baby grand is routed out through software to two self-playing upright pianos that interpret the input and randomly output notes which he then reacts to in real time. It’s telling that he is incorporating technology to induce an unpredictable, idiosyncratic element, rather than any mechanized perfection. These are tunes that breathe, that feel organic and alive.
Ólafur Arnalds | olafurarnalds.com