Ólafur Arnalds is no stranger to my end of year lists. Neither is Nils Frahm, as nominated by Andy a couple of days ago. However, for both 2018 was the year that they really broke through into, if not the mainstream, then certainly a major tributary to it.
They both had critically acclaimed albums and played their biggest gigs of their careers so far, Arnalds at the Royal Albert Hall and Frahm at the Hammersmith Apollo. I was lucky enough to be at both and they readily acknowledged 6Music DJ Mary Anne Hobbs as being pivotal in their rise from relative obscurity. Indeed Arnalds plays live on her show this weekend. However their tributes to her feel bittersweet. Mary Anne is herself about to move from the relative obscurity of her 7am weekend show to the coveted morning weekday on 6 Music. Her show at weekends was one of a handful of shows over the years (Peel, Danny Baker on GLR, Out On Blue Six) that built a genuine sense of community and shared music discovery – quite an achievement at 7am on a Sunday morning. Many of my nominations in the last few years were first heard on her show. Quite how that will translate to a weekday show remains to be seen. Anyway I digress, but in any case congratulations are in order for all three (Arnalds, Frahm & Hobbs) on their landmark years.
Here is the video for a live reworking of ‘undir’ from the album ‘Re:member’. Really this sort of music does not suit a video at all, although this does a fairly good job.. It is music to stare out of the window to, not look at a screen full of pixels. If you do watch the video and wonder why two of the pianos seem to be playing themselves, they are being operated using an algorithm that Arnalds developed which means that they can compose improvised music on the fly, with the two slave pianos triggered by the main one that he is playing. Music meets maths – the closest this blog will get to my day job. It was certainly very impressive live…
In total contrast to Olafur Arnalds is my choice for today. This lot burst onto my list in both 2015 and 2016, and after a Glastonbury-style fallow year in 2017, they’re back with a bang. The market researchers amongst us will surely appreciate my favourite opening line to a song this year…
Did you know 65% of UK homes contain at least one magnolia wall?
I bet you didn’t! Number 15…
My #15 is this year’s first crossover (and I doubt the last!) ‘One Rizla’ by South London Punk Rock scamps, Shame, previously posted by Andy. I have chosen their incendiary Jools Holland performance showcasing what an exciting live proposition they must be.
While on a little bit of a thematic run, my next choice continues with another of the Aussie dance floor favourites, The Presets. They have been bouncing around festivals and night clubs for 15 years now and are well known for their ability to get a large crowd moving. I challenge you to listen to our #15 selection “Martini” and not find yourself still silently repeating the refrain hours later: