KIASMOS WAS NEVER meant to be a full-time gig. The two multi-instrumentalists that make up the Icelandic duo, Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen, remain busy enough on their own. Arnalds has a thriving solo career that includes composing music for film and TV (he won a BAFTA in 2014 for the score he created for the BBC America series Broadchurch), and Rasmussen works as a producer and engineer while also making music with his other electropop duo, Byrta.
"It was always meant to be an excuse to have fun and do what we couldn't do with other projects," Rasmussen said, speaking via Skype from his studio in Reykjavík. "We don't have any rules and we're not locking ourselves down at all."
Their work together, though, has been taking up more and more of their time. And for good reason: Kiasmos' 2014 self-titled album and the two EPs the duo released this year find that hard-to-reach sweet spot where the sweep and grandeur of chamber music combines smoothly with modern dance music. The melodies are handled through Arnalds' mournful piano, but are kept in check by the lift of the slippery electro rhythms the two cook up in tandem.
Even more than studio work, the duo has been swept up in a whirlwind of promotional activity over the last couple of years. They've spent much of this year bouncing around the globe, playing clubs and festival gigs including multiple short runs in the US, like the West Coast jaunt that lands them at Holocene this Thursday.
If there is a challenge, it's how Kiasmos will move forward and make more music with Arnalds' and Rasmussen's already-full dance cards. Both want to start working on solo projects over the holidays, and take a well-deserved break to just relax.
"We want to continue together, but we have to find the right time," says Rasmussen. "Luckily our studios are in the same building, so you never know what could happen. I might just walk over one night and we could make a tune together. We don't have to plan much."