Piano Works, out June 26 on One Little Indian Records, is a tender and beautifully-composed selection of piano pieces from Icelandic pianist Gabríel Ólafs. His debut, Absent Minded, was written at the age of 14, and on Piano Works, the teenager continues to shine. In this record, you’ll find an astonishingly-advanced level of musical maturity and depth.
On Piano Works, Ólafs presents ‘reimagined arrangements’, which are released as part of an ambitious deconstructive project by One Little Indian Records. Ólafs began playing the piano when he was five years old, initially studying classical and jazz piano, but always leaning into and preferring the wider circles of improvisation and playing by ear. This has given his music a beautiful freedom and flow, and improvisation heavily influences his sound. The compositions seem to have a concrete structure, but there’s a spaciousness within, as well as a more flexible sound. Improvisation also helps to expand horizons, and that’s where one can hear the hours and hours of practice; it develops both ear and heart.
His prolonged studying has paid off, because the resulting eight pieces are sensitive, playful, and fully fleshed-out. While they flourish and sparkle, the compositions are imbued with something else – heart, and that’s an audible quality. The intricate melodies and trickling phrases are cinematic, and a deft touch opens up plenty of space for a more ambient sound, which in turn slinks over the piano’s notes and creates a mesmeric and dreamy vibe. Watch this space. Remember the name.