Eulogy For Evolution is the debut release from young Icelandic artist Ólafur Arnalds, as well as the first for the UK-based Erased Tapes label within North America. Floating through a world of delicate modern classical music, he haunts the same spectral realms as artist like Max Richter, Sylvain Chauveau, and others. Perhaps even more straightforward than those two aforementioned artists, Arnalds dabbles a bit with some very, very subtle electronics and loops, but mostly lets the ivories and strings do the talking.
And so, the eight track release plays out in a slow upward arc, with song titles that do little to suggest much of anything on top of the album title itself. "0040" opens the release with a fragile string quartet section before melting into a longer piano solo. Eventually, the strings enter again, and the whole thing takes on a sort of slightly melancholy, yet almost uplifting feel that's quite lovely. "0048/0729" finds the piano mostly taking the lead, and the close mic recording allows the hammer falls and sustain pedal noises to play a part in the song (along with some quiet, droning loops). About halfway through the release (in places during "1440" and "1953"), the strings take on a more urgent feel in places while still intertwining with pretty piano work, and then on the final three tracks Arnalds shows some even more dramatic shifts.
Because it takes a good portion of the album to get to that point, the rapidly quickening pace and sudden burst of drums and bass on "3055" comes as a real surprise, but it's a needed release at that point, and the track spirals upwards in a way similar to a louder moment by Sigur Ros. Not to be outdone, "3326" is a fiery solo violin piece that attacks frenetically for over three minutes, while the album closer of "3704/3837" starts out with a quiet piano refrain before blitzing into a frantic rock moment that recalls the hyper kinetic work of 65DaysOfStatic (which shouldn't come as a surprise given that Arnalds has arranged strings for their work). Just as it's reaching blowout levels, the rock dissolves in a bit of digital deconstruction before a church organ coda ends it all. Exhilarating in places and somewhat languid in others, Eulogy For Evolution nonetheless is an interesting little album from a young artist who seems like he's trying to figure out exactly which direction he wants to go in.