Label (Year): Erased Tapes (2014)
For Fans Of: Jon Hopkins, Synkro, Yagya, Ólafur Arnalds, Bloodgroup
Words by Aidan Daly
Fusing the neo-classical elegance of sonic heartbreaker Ólafur Arnalds and the sleek, synth-oriented production of Bloodgroup’s Janus Rasmussen, Kiasmos’ self-titled debut delicately traverses the middle ground between its creators.
Despite being primarily an electronic project, the incorporation of live instrumentation in the form of a grand piano and a string quartet provides the album with its uniquely organic essence. Appropriately, the album often acts as a harmonic accompaniment to the glacial Icelandic environment in which the album was written and recorded. Distinctively cold melodies sit tightly on top of pulsating sub bass, while icy and brittle percussive elements splinter through canvases of strings and piano.
Throughout, refrains build to cinematic intensity, often around a simple and repeating melody. This minimalism is something that characterises much of the album, also a prominent feature of Arnalds’ solo work. Basic motifs composed of no more than three or four individual notes provide the framework upon which lush electronic and instrumental arrangements gradually unfold.
Much of the album’s character also comes from the juxtaposition of its synthesised and live elements, most affecting on closing tracks ‘Bent’ and ‘Burnt’; pensive piano passages are set against thunderous sub bass, and soaring strings against harsh, imposing synths. If nothing else, this dimension serves to perfectly encapsulate Kiasmos as the junction at which Arnalds’ and Rasmussen’s divergent musical backgrounds meet.