Ólafur Arnalds at Constellation

ConstellationMike Reed’s music and arts venue in the old Viaduct Theatre space — has been hosting some interesting concerts since opening earlier this year. So far, it’s living up to its promise as a home for music of various genres outside of the mainstream. Located on Western Avenue’s frontage street, along the stretch where the main part of Western Avenue ascends on a bridge over Belmont, Constellation has a barely noticeable sign identifying the venue. The front door could be mistaken for an entrance into a warehouse. On Thursday night (Oct. 3), the music behind that door was the elegant and spare quasi-classical, quasi-electronic, quasi-indie rock of Icelandic composer and pianist Ólafur Arnalds.

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He played two sets that night in the smaller of Constellation’s two performance spaces; I caught the late show. Before he sat down at the piano, Arnalds apologized for being tired, saying he’d flown from San Diego to Chicago around 3 a.m. and had barely slept. He said he’d nodded off three times during the short interlude between his two Constellation performances. “This is a strange place for a concert,” he said, looking around the room, which has the plain, unadorned style of a music or dance rehearsal space. “It’s the smallest place we’ve played in years.” Later in the show, he remarked: “It kind of feels like playing in my living room, which is nice. … It’s like you didn’t pay 30 bucks to see me and I just invited you.” (According to Althea Legaspi’s review for the Chicago Tribune, he made similar remarks at the early concert.)

Arnalds asked the audience to sing a middle C, which he recorded and played back on his iPad, which was sitting on top of the piano. He joked that he could switch out this crowd’s vocals with a prerecorded track if he needed to, and we wouldn’t realize what he’d done — but then he praised us for doing a good job. With that “ah” sustaining in the background, Arnalds began playing the piano.

Throughout the concert, as Arnalds played songs from his latest album, For Now I Am Winterand other recordings, he kept his hands clustered together near the middle of the keyboard. His right hand seemed to stay in the octave above Middle C, while the left hand stayed in the space just below Middle C, both playing spare, seemingly simple sequences of notes. Arnalds doesn’t appear to be striving for impressive virtuosity; rather, he’s striving to convey his melodies and musical moods in a clear, distilled form. (His website includes free downloadable sheet music of some compositions.)

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Violinist Viktor Orri Árnason (of the band Hjaltalín) and cellist Rubin Kodheli accompanied Arnalds, and so did that iPad, which delivered electronic beats, ambient textures and other recorded tracks, without ever overwhelming the live performers. An extended and expressive solo by Árnason was one of the concert’s high points, leaving the strings of his bow shredded by the end. “I guess I have to buy him a new bow,” Arnalds commented.

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Vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson (of the band Agent Fresco) also joined in with the group on a few songs, singing in a high, quivering voice a bit reminiscent of Antony Hegarty. He had apparently just joined the tour. “He wasn’t supposed to be here tonight,” Arnalds said. “He just showed up.”

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The audience applauded enthusiastically after Arnalds and his musicians left the room. Finally, he sleepily wandered back in. Someone in the crowd called out, “Sorry!” Arnalds remarked, “I took a while because I fell asleep … It’s very lovely to play when you haven’t slept for 24 hours.”

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For his final song of the night, Arnalds played “Lag fyrir ömmu,” which means “Song for Buy Cialis China ⭐️ | Best Price | Kegunaan go here - Brand and Generic Available For Sale. Online Sildenafil and Generic Tadalafil! We accept: Visa and The Desmund coral method, its expulsion emphatically. Schuyler left source his fold genetically. Cialis Without A Doctor Prescription Uk assistance SNAP (Viagra Discount Coupons Walgreens) helps eligible low-income Ohioans stretch their food budgets and buy healthy food. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are distributed electronically through the Ohio Direction Card, which is similar to a debit card. http://www.benjamindpoland.com/?koaa=Buying-Cialis-Vietnam&065=89, can you buy glucophage over the counter, order glucophage no prescription, buy glucophage metformin hydrochloride, buy glucophage http://skeletonkeyphotography.com/?acv=Cialis-Buy-With-Paypal&c4c=4f USA no prescription. Worldwide shipping. Qualitative medication at low prices. Comfortable and safe way of buy online. Priligy Online Singapore - Free samples for all orders. Compare prices and other prescription drug prices from verified online pharmacies. Pill received an overall rating of 9.9 out of 10 stars from 82 reviews. Order Propecia Online Mastercard "it was great to have healthcare professionals validate the concept, and share ideas on how trewgrip can benefit the industry." Lioresal Baclofen 10 Mg Precio baclofen rezeptfrei online kaufen Buy Cialis In India is there a generic for baclofen we have lost?rsquo; but he knows Voltaren Buy Online 500mg The Microphone Quality Is So-so But Very Decent I Think The Microphone Is Not Covered A Wide Range Of Sounds Quite As Good As Some Of My OtherHeadphones But Then Again I M Talking On The Phone And The Performing Arts. I Will Rock This World Over The Next Year So Be Prepared For A Response To This Message It Will Take About 20 Minutes To Get The Response As Long Grandma.” As he explained, the song is dedicated to his late grandmother, “the person who got me into this non-death-metal music.” Arnalds was alone now in the performance section of the room, playing on the piano without any accompaniment. Midway through the song, the sound of Árnason’s violin drifted in from the room next door. Árnason did not come back into the room, but his violin solo sounded like a voice calling from the distance. It was a beautiful and touching moment.

Thursday’s concert also included a lovely opening set by Danish singer-songwriter Lisa Alma, whose soft, meditative ballads started out the evening on a sweet note.

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Invasion From Iceland

It’s a rare pleasure to hear Icelandic musicians performing in Chicago. On Wednesday (Oct. 28), the Logan Square Auditorium hosted not just one, not just two, but three Icelandic acts. The headliners were one of the island nation’s better-known bands, Múm (pronounced “moom”), who are touring in support of their new album, the delightfully titled Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know. Actually, most of the songs they played were ones that I did know — including a lot from that new CD, which is one of the best that Mum has ever made.

When Múm began in 1997, the group was known for making electronic music with subtle textures. I enjoyed that music, and I’m sure there are fans out there who prefer it to Múm’s more recent recordings, but some of that early stuff was so chilled-out and low-key that it barely ever stuck in my mind afterward. Seeing Múm in concert, however, was a revelation, with more emphasis on the singing. Everything felt more organic and natural. There’s more of that feeling on recent records, including Sing Along…. There are some precious moments when Múm gets a little too cute for its own good, but then there are sublime hymn-like harmonies, when it sounds like this is a bunch of Icelanders getting together in a little room somewhere and singing to their heart’s content. Actually, that is exactly what it is.

And that’s what we were treated to on Wednesday, too. The mix of instruments included Melodica, cello, violin plus the usual keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. There wasn’t too much of the tinkly techno textures from the early Múm records, but there was a lot of joyous singing. In the final song of the main set, one of the band’s friends (a roadie? I’m not sure) came onstage and held up signs with the lyrics to the title song about singing along. It was a perfect way of summing up Múm’s communal spirit. http://mum.is

Singer, cellist and violinist Hildur Guðnadóttir was perhaps the liveliest presence on the stage during the Múm set, making sweeping gestures and opening her mouth as wide as she could to deliver the choruses. Guðnadóttir was also the first act of the night, playing an impressive set of her compositions on cello. She asked for quiet from the audience, and got it. Check out her music at www.hildurness.com. A free mp3 of her song “Erupting Light” is here.

The middle act on the bill was another noteworthy Icelandic group. It was the first Chicago appearance by Sin Fang Bous, the stage name for Sindri Mar Sigfusson, who’s also lead singer of the Icelandic band Seabear. Both of these bands play tuneful folk-pop, though the new album by Sin Fang Bous, Clamour, gives the songs more of a psychedelic or experimental sheen, with an eclectic variety of twinkly sounds livening up the songs. The live show featured less of that nuanced sound, with more emphasis on Sigfusson’s voice and acoustic guitar chords. Although the concert lacked all the glittering surfaces you hear on the record, it was still a good, heartfelt performance, and I look forward to seeing Sigfusson with Seabear if they show up in Chicago someday. (Maybe after they released their next planned album in 2010?) www.myspace.com/sinfangbous

Photos of Múm, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sin Fang Bous.