Various/Ólafur Arnalds Late Night Tales

Various/Ólafur Arnalds Late Night Tales
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The Late Night Tales series allows select artists the opportunity to curate their ideal mixtape, giving fans the chance to better understand an artist's tastes and influences. The title loosely implies a sense intimacy, secrecy and discovery — this is your friend you wish you knew better posting links to music you haven't heard before, online after midnight.
 
All of that is the case with Ólafur Arnalds' entry in the series, which he says is very personal and was carefully crafted. Arnalds is largely known as a producer of intricate and delicate neo-classical compositions and film scores, and the personal nature of this mix is apparent immediately, as he begins by exploring his heritage via traditional Icelandic chanting. Elsewhere in the mix, friends, collaborators and fellow Icelanders are represented: Samaris, Rival Consoles, Hjaltalin and more.
 
Jai Paul's bass-heavy R&B track "Jasmine" is a standout that, after nine tracks of ambience and experimentalism, gives a mid-album energy boost and a welcome shifting of the gears. It's immediately compounded by a moody entry from the inimitable James Blake.
 
Arnalds' own version of Destiny's Child hit "Say My Name" turns the 1990s club hit into a bleak piano and strings ballad, while his experimental techno project, Kiasmos, contributes "Orgoned," which sounds like a Radiohead remix with a creepy synth line, skittering percussion and unconventional strings.
 
It all combines for an interesting mix with some nice high points, but ultimately falls short of greatness by pulling in too many conflicting directions at once. Clearly, Arnalds has great taste and musical intuition, but this is a mixtape — we're still waiting for a cohesive full-length of his own on which even more of his personality will shine. (Late Night Tales)