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Music

Ólafur Arnalds, 'Partisans'

"Partisans," a newly unearthed track from Icelandic composer and producer Ólafur Arnalds, languished on an old hard drive for a decade. Written when Arnalds was in his early 20s, the sparse and haunting song was conceived as part of the soundtrack to The Invisible Front, a historical documentary that chronicles the Lithuanian resistance against Soviet forces during WWII. Thankfully, the downtime provided by the pandemic led to Arnalds rediscovering the lost music.

There's a beautiful starkness here that conjures the flickering of still images: a lone figure facing the elements, a slowly receding glacier, the close-up visage of an elder. There's a magically transportive quality to this piece, and to the work of like-minded modern composers such as Anna Thorvaldsdottir from Iceland, the late Finn Einojuhani Rautavaara and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose masterpiece "Spiegel im Spiegel" comes to mind when listening to this track. Sadly, "Partisans" is only four minutes long. But when combined with the rest of Arnalds' new The Invisible EP, there's a wonderful half-hour escape just waiting for you.

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