Monday, 4 January 2010

Olafur Arnalds - Dyad 1909 [Erased Tapes]

Erased Tapes has just released Olafur Arnalds' quite brilliant score for Wayne McGregor's recent ballet Dyad 1909 - great news by itself, but while digging around doing some research for the review, I stumbled across a fascinating set of articles and information about McGregor himself. I don't know a lot about contemporary dance at all, bar the projects that have formed a cross over with the music world (Merce Cunningham's Split Sides with Radiohead and Sigur Ros, Peter Broderick scoring Adrienne Hart's Falling From Trees), but as a biology graduate it's interesting to see that McGregor's been involved in a series of research projects about the cognitive and biological aspects of creativity.

At the end of every year when the 'best of' lists come out, there's always a discussion around the subjectivity and individuality of artistic creation and appreciation, and it always seems that there's precious little talk about what we do know about the science behind the creative process. There's a great article by Euan Ferguson, writing for the Observer, that discusses the projects with McGregor and some of the scientists involved in these research projects. It's well worth reading. There's also a lot more about his R-Research on McGregor's home page.

Arnalds' score itself is wonderful, further developing
the subtle electronic elements of his earlier compositions. Both understated and openly dramatic, it seems to fit perfectly with the themes running through Dyad 1909 - the chill elemental power of the Antarctic, and a tough balletic delicacy of touch. '3326' is particularly striking, a sparse solo violin arrangement that builds to a furious and heartfelt crescendo. Quite aside from being my favourite thing he's yet written, this score suggests that his forthcoming third album will be his most fully realised statement yet.

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