Found Songs is an assortment of seven songs recorded in seven days and released, one a day, over Twitter. It’s the work of Ólafur Arnalds, whose 2007 debut, Eulogy for Evolution, was critically well-received. The Variations of Static EP followed in 2008. He opened for fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros last year to sold-out European venues, and his music is comparably elegiac.
This collection is seemingly born not out of mourning for something lost, and it’s spacious and melancholic music. Less than twenty minutes long, it’s a slight offering composed of diminutive songs. Nothing is wasted. Simple piano compositions unfold in tandem with wrenching violin parts and minor electronic touches. There are no vocals, no hooks, no surprises; an absentminded listener could play Found Songs several times over without noticing a difference in songs, or even that the songs have been repeated. Those with an experimental itch will crave more of what Arnalds offers in “Lost Song,” in which an electronic percussive effect creates a looming machine-like sound. This overlay of classical and industrial elements is an affecting contrast.
It is, after all, Arnalds’ use of Twitter and Flickr – the vehicle through which fans contributed artwork, some of it culled to decorate the physical edition of Found Songs – that creates a paradoxically symbiotic relationship between modernity and classicism. What better way to both mourn (and celebrate through mourning) the world’s desolate landscapes than to include the industrial elements that are destroying them?