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Thursday, December 14

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Review Sat Oct 05 2013

Ólafur Arnalds @ Constellation 10/03

Thursday in Chicago was an introspective day. The sky was an ominous shade of grey and a thick fog filled the air. As the day progressed, it started to rain. The city found itself temporarily transformed by the weather into a state of melancholy. It was the perfect weather to experience Ólafur Arnalds and his fantastic set of ambient modern classical.

Ólafur Arnalds played two sets on Thursday at the new jazz club, Constellation. I saw the later show at 9pm. Constellation opened in April on Western Avenue on the edge of Roscoe Village taking the space of the former Viaduct Theater. Founded by local jazz stalwart, Mike Reed, Constellation has taken on the mission of "present[ing] progressive performance and forward-thinking music with a focus on jazz, improvisation and contemporary classical." It's a really nice looking place and they're already booked an impressive lineup ranging from the aggressively avant-garde Peter Brötzmann to the master percussionist Hamid Drake.

olafur_arnalds_big_large.jpg

The room in which we saw Ólafur Arnalds perform was a small minimalist area that embodied a sense of warmth and belonging. At one point during his set, Arnalds commented on this saying something to the point of, "It feels like I'm playing a private concert in the living room of my house. I do that for friends." He then smirked and further commented with his subtle wit, "It almost doesn't feel like you paid money to see me," before starting to play the baroque "Brim."

On stage, Ólafur was accompanied by a trio of musicians; vocalist Arnór Dan, violinist Viktor Orri Árnason and cellist Rubin Kodheli. Arnalds played the piano and handled sound manipulation with his assortment of devices. They played a set that leaned heavily towards the recently released album, For Now I Am Winter. Pieces like the aforementioned "Brim," and the Steve Reich inspired "New Skin" came alive with a sort of creative kineticism.

About halfway through the set, violinist Viktor Orri Árnason, performed an exhilarating and highly emotive solo. He played so intensely, his bow started to fracture yet he continued on and finished his performance. It was breathtaking. Afterwards, Ólafur commented with his subtle and charming wit, "Well...I guess I have to buy him a new bow."

He ended his set with a tribute to his grandmother, "Lag Fyrir Ömmu," a beautiful and haunting minimalist piece for piano and violin. "I owe my love of Chopin and all things non death-metal to her," he said before he began to play. As the piece reached its crescendo, an unseen violin suddenly played at the same intensity in tandem with the piano before both instruments slowly winded down to silence. The performance as a whole was a beautiful reminder of the subtle joys and subtle sorrows that life can sometimes provide.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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