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Kiasmos

Today Kiasmos, the duo of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and Faroese musician Janus Rasmussen, announce details of their long-awaited second album II, set for release on July 5 via Erased Tapes. Along with the announcement they have shared a new single, entitled “Burst”, as well as new live dates, including a show at London’s Troxy in September, in addition to the previously announced Outernet show in May – details below.

When Kiasmos started out in the late 2000s, little did they know that their part-time supergroup would go stratospheric. It was the sound of two old friends from neighbouring islands striking out against the stark piano and electropop music that they were individually celebrated for and effusively sharing their love of Berlin-inspired beats. But their pairing blew up into a world-dominating live act whose music went on to define the decade. So what does one of the most dynamic duos in electronic music do next, after all this time? There are clues in their new artwork: Kiasmos’s distinctive diamond motif, up in flames, so it can rise again from the ashes.

Kiasmos are returning, renewed and restored, with II. It’s the triumphant followup to their universally acclaimed self-titled debut in 2014, which re-envisioned minimal techno with orchestral flourishes and weightless production. They’d made most of that album in just two weeks; this time it’s been 10 years. The making of II was a test of their friendship, but also testament to how great musical chemistry can always go the distance and be just the same as it ever was. “In the beginning, we hadn’t established any sound, so it was easy to write,” says Janus.

Following the recently dropped EP Flown, today they share new single “Burst” which Janus describes as being “the moment when the whole album started coming together. A lot of work went into making this track what it is, making it an anchor for the rest of the album.”

Ólafur adds: “when we finally arrived at Burst it felt like a key to the puzzle of what a new Kiasmos could sound like.”

On II you can clearly hear how Kiasmos have evolved as sonic architects, in the album’s deeper acoustic textures, atmospheric ambience, restless grooves and ambitious string arrangements. Each song on the album is a mini epic, effortlessly moving between electronic, classical and rave, and then pulling back before you’ve had a chance to take a breath. This is Kiasmos – but more widescreen. “It’s bigger, both in sound and production,” says Janus. “The music has matured yet there’s a playfulness to it.”

“The record sounds fuller,” agrees Ólafur. “The sound design gives you a sense of place and space.”

They worked on a lot of II during the lost year of 2020-2021, including a trip to Ólafur’s studio in Bali. “We spent a month there and wrote a few songs that ended up on the record,” says Janus. The pair sampled traditional Balinese percussion like the gamelan and incorporated Janus’s field recordings of their natural surroundings – the sound of birds, crickets and echoing the sunrise over the lush landscape.

Kiasmos have an enviable knack for conveying complex emotions and evocative visuals with instrumental music. But this time they’ve got more experience as producers to draw on. The album’s expansiveness can be linked to Ólafur’s intervening years as a Grammy-nominated composer and prominent soundtracker in film and TV. And they’ve subtly shifted from four-to-the-floor to the frenetic broken beats of UK dance music, experimenting more with BPMs, echoing Janus’s time spent DJing in major venues worldwide.

“It’s emotional rave!” laughs Ólafur. The magic of Kiasmos is also in the cathartic release that can happen at their live shows. “We often talk about the idea of crying on the dance floor,” Ólafur continues. “That’s become our unofficial slogan.” But they also want to keep everyone, including themselves, on their toes. “II is livelier,” says Janus, “but it still retains the signature Kiasmos style of transitioning from a whisper-quiet ambience to an explosive dance beat that can blow your socks off.” Their phoenix is rising from the ashes, and ready to take flight.

Upcoming shows

Date
City
Country
Venue
25/07/2024 Brno Czech Republic Pop Messe 2024
01/08/2024 Waterford Ireland All together Now 2024
07/08/2024 Budapest Hungary Sziget Festival 2024
09/08/2024 Trencin Slovakia Grape Festival 2024
13/09/2024 Rome Italy Spring Attitude Festival 2024 - FullPass 2024
14/09/2024 Rome Italy Spring Attitude Festival 2024 | DAY 2 - Saturday 2024
15/09/2024 Milan Italy Magnolia
18/09/2024 London UK Troxy
18/09/2024 Hamburg Germany Reeperbahn Festival 2024
19/09/2024 Paris France SALLE PLEYEL
20/09/2024 Cologne Germany Stadthalle Köln
22/09/2024 Copenhagen Denmark Poolen
24/09/2024 Luxembourg Luxembourg DEN ATELIER
25/09/2024 Amsterdam Netherlands Melkweg
26/09/2024 Berlin Germany Columbiahalle
11/10/2024 Tokyo Japan Liquidroom
12/10/2024 Fujinomiya Japan Asagiri Jam 2024
15/10/2024 Shanghai China Bandai Namco Dream Hall
12/11/2024 New York (NYC) US Elsewhere - The Hall
13/11/2024 Montreal Canada Club Soda
15/11/2024 SF Bay Area US 1015 Folsom
16/11/2024 Los Angeles (LA) US The Regent Theater
17/11/2024 Seattle US The Crocodile
20/11/2024 Mexico City Mexico Auditorio BB