Kiasmos - II

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Format: Vinyl

SKU ERATP168LE

Ltd 2 x Clear Vinyl

Kiasmos – Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and Faroese musician Janus Rasmussen – are returning, renewed and restored, with II. The triumphant follow-up to their universally acclaimed self-titled debut in 2014, which re-envisioned minimal techno with orchestral flourishes and weightless production. They’d made most of that album in just two weeks; this time it’s been 10 years. The making of II was a test of their friendship, but also testament to how great musical chemistry can always go the distance and be just the same as it ever was.

They worked on a lot of II during the lost year of 2020-2021, including a trip to Ólafur’s studio in Bali. “We spent a month there and wrote a few songs that ended up on the record,” says Janus. The pair sampled traditional Balinese percussion like the gamelan and incorporated Janus’s field recordings of their natural surroundings – the sound of birds, crickets and, on standout track ‘Dazed’, echoing the sunrise over the lush landscape.

Kiasmos have an enviable knack for conveying complex emotions and evocative visuals with instrumental music. But this time they’ve got more experience as producers to draw on. The album’s expansiveness can be linked to Ólafur’s intervening years as a Grammy-nominated composer and prominent soundtracker in film and TV. And they’ve subtly shifted from four-to-the-floor to the frenetic broken beats of UK dance music, experimenting more with BPMs, echoing Janus’s time spent DJing in major venues worldwide. There are still those aching melodies that fans know and love but they’re catchier too: tracks like ‘Laced’ and ‘Bound’ have an irresistible, elastic bounce beneath the ethereal palette.

“We just want to make electronic music that there isn’t so much of right now,” says Janus, “to take you on a great journey that is a little bit unconventional.” “You have to develop into a new space,” Ólafur adds. But they had to impose limits, too, to keep them both on track and make something memorable. Often Ólafur would refuse to move on to the next idea until they’d perfected a chord progression or beat, to help them stay focused and forge, he says, a “deep understanding of what the song is.”

“II is livelier,” says Janus, “but it still retains the signature Kiasmos style of transitioning from a whisper-quiet ambience to an explosive dance beat that can blow your socks off.”

Genre: Minimal Techno / Electronica