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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tonight in Music: Ólafur Arnalds, Jeffrey Kahane & the Oregon Symphony, Chelsea Wolfe

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 9:59 AM


ÓLAFUR ARNALDS, NILS FRAHM
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) When the air starts to chill and the skies fade to forever gray, that's the time to reach for Ólafur Arnalds. The 26-year-old Icelandic composer makes music that's beyond his years, building beautiful pieces of contemporary classical music out of minimalist piano, lush string sections, inorganic beats, and an impressive sense of dynamics. When the songs on his 2012 album For Now I Am Winter are left to themselves, they're like the soundtrack to somber, slo-mo footage of a cold front moving in. When vocals are added, Arnalds recalls his likeminded countrymen in Sigur Rós. Either way, the guy is talented and tasteful; whether or not he can make a living as a solo artist, he'll be able to score films for the rest of his life. He'll be joined by German keyboard adventurer Nils Frahm, whose captivating new album, Spaces, will be released in November by the influential avant-garde label Erased Tapes. BEN SALMON


JEFFREY KAHANE, OREGON SYMPHONY
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway) On a Tuesday night 210 years ago, Beethoven took the stage, cracked some knuckles, and introduced an unsuspecting world to his freshly composed Piano Concerto No. 3—becoming, in that singular moment, the world's first indie musician to gain rock-star status. Free from the conservative shackles of popes, princes, and record label execs, young Ludwig wrote and played whatever the fuck he wanted, and his third mash-up for piano and orchestra instantly destroyed all future expectations for what artists "ought" to be doing. As luck would have it, the Oregon Symphony brings this brilliant work to life, and the indefatigable Jeffrey Kahane is on deck to blow up the Schnitz's nine-foot Steinway. You got something better to do than hear Beethoven's keyboard mastery brought to life right there in front of your ridiculously pierced and intentionally deformed ears? Yeah. Thirty-two smackers is all it takes to get a seat in the upper balcony, which, in my opinion, is the acoustic g-spot of the entire concert hall. I implore you, on my knees, beneath shards of freshly broken glass: Stop Instagramming your cat's ass for one goddamned night and get to this show. The program repeats Sunday and Monday, so you really have no excuses for missing greatness. ANGRY SYMPHONY GUY


CHELSEA WOLFE, TRUE WIDOW
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) At some weird imaginary aural crossroads, past Comus and Swans but somewhere before Strawberry Switchblade and Julee Cruise, you'll find the otherworldly darkness of Chelsea Wolfe. For her last several records, Wolfe experimented with ethereal doom-folk (she's also covered Burzum's "Black Spell of Destruction"). Her newest album, Pain Is Beauty, is less sparse then the haunting acoustic work of Unknown Rooms, but still hints at a panicked numbness akin to a sensory depravation tank or a near-death experience... perhaps even more so, as the electronic undercurrents exploit that tension. Heavy and gauzy Texas outfit True Widow reference rhythmic post-rock repetition and swirling shoegaze haziness without submitting to either. They balance a chaotic underbelly with catchy, simple melodies and compelling harmonies. Dark, deep, and unique, they make music to get lost in. BREE MCKENNA

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