GABRÍEL ÓLAFS UNVEILS NEW SINGLE + VIDEO, “THE LILY”
SOLON ISLANDUS OUT JULY 15
20 MAY 2022 (TORONTO, ON) – Icelandic composer and multi-instrumentalist Gabríel Ólafs unveils a new single today, “The Lily,” alongside an orchestral version and a solo piano version—listen HERE and watch the video HERE. The song is taken from his forthcoming album Solon Islandus, set for release July 15 via Decca Records U.S./Universal Music Canada—pre-order HERE and view the EPK HERE.
“‘The Lily’ is the most expressive piece I've composed, the melody was born on the piano after I read a particularly beautiful poem with themes of romance and nature,” Ólafs says. “I wanted the piece to have chapters that represent different states in a journey through time, led by the main motif: we begin in the present moment with the soaring lead cello, next we enter a dreamlike middle-place before entering the past, which is represented by a mono recording of an orchestra. For the outro I wanted to reference the sound of old orchestral recordings and some of the film scores I love. In the context of the album, the piece represents spring and flowers awakening after winter slumber.”
The new work follows first single/video “The Drifter,” which Atwood Magazine praised as “Beautifully tender and achingly visceral, a transformative emotional outpouring that leaves listeners in a state of wistful wonder”— listen/watch/share HERE.
An ambitious concept album and transmedia project that pays homage to the artistic spirit of the people of Iceland, Ólafs’ major label debut is a work of personal discovery—an exploration of the artistry, culture and place that has shaped Gabríel’s identity. The record draws inspiration from the writing of one of Iceland’s great poets, Davíð Stefánsson, in melodic works for piano, ensemble and choir with spoken word elements.
Ólafs was read Stefánsson’s poems as a child by both his father and grandfather, and he especially fell in love with his earliest poetry collection, Black Feathers (Svartar Fjaðrir), published one hundred years earlier when the poet was the same age as Ólafs when he was making the new album. While recording, Ólafs would read the poems and try to capture their essence in melody.
The title Solon Islandus comes from Stefánsson’s only novel, the tragic tale of a real-life Icelandic drifter, Sölvi Helgason. A composer with a longstanding love of film, Ólafs takes a “directorial” view of composition—creating motifs and themes to represent characters and emotions. “Tracks like ‘The Drifter’ and ‘Júlíana’ are inspired by characters from the novel,” says Ólafs. “It’s almost as if this was a movie, and these are their themes.”
While influenced by a particular quiet and delicate Icelandic sound verging on minimalist, Ólafs is especially drawn to melodies. “Tchaikovsky, Morricone, John Williams, they can all write a good melody. Nothing really compares.” Working at his piano, Ólafs always begins with melodies, recording the results with voice memos on his phone. “I have maybe 200 of them,” Ólafs notes. For Solon Islandus, he tried to simplify his melodies as much as possible. “I wanted to match the poems, which are straight to the point, straight to the heart,” he explains.
Gabríel Ólafs was only 14 when he wrote the song that landed him his first record deal, which saw his first album, Absent Minded, released on an independent label five years later. His tracks have since been streamed tens of millions of times online; his music is, writes PopMatters, “brimming with beauty.”
Solon Islandus Tracklisting:
- The Memory
- Solon Islandus
- The Lily
- The Drifter
- The Restless Bird
- The Farewell
- The Caw
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