There’s something really special happening in Denmark right now. It might just be the region’s own golden age for music. And it’s not just Blaue Blume, but countless other acts seem to just be popping up and spreading their own unique brand of gorgeous electronic-infusion. Although much of it can be attributed to Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, be it on his side projects like Marching Church and Vår or on Iceage, a band that already left a mark on the post-punk scene with three amazing albums. But there’s more to the Danish scene than just Elias’ efforts. There’s the Danish response to M.I.A, MØ, the heavily Depeche Mode inspired Lust for Youth, and the suggestively named shoegaze 4-piece, Pinkunoizu. There’s not only quality, but diversity too, and Blaue Blume are doing everything in their power to add more to the already booming scene.
If there’s one thing that links the Danish band’s somewhat disjointed sound, it’s the fact that they’re not trying to hide their influences. Add to the previous acts namedropped, the gorgeous crystalline vocals of up-and-coming duo Kill J atop scant production reminiscent of FKA Twigs and you get the point: the Danish pick something and embrace it whilst creating something unique and almost entirely their own. Blaue Blume follows suit. It doesn’t take much time for the connections to Morrissey to become abundantly clear, especially through Jonas Smith’s floaty vocals, dancing effervescently around guitars and synthesizers. Syzygy relies on this tiptoed approach to instrumental relationships, creating textured layers that push the lyrics above standard vocal delivery. It’s the same beautifully sparkling quality that made the outro of “Thinking of Roxy” so memorably transcendental, much like the work of Sigur Rós.
Syzygy is founded on uncompromising contrast. Compare the hauntingly sweet, yet undeniably hair-raising chorus of “Buoyant Forces” to the chaos-powered seven-minutes of “Epoch”. The spacey, echoing guitars of the first have a soothing effect almost like throwing pebbles at a lake in late autumn. The latter, with its rolling drums and shoegaze walls of sound, makes head as the most unique song and centerpiece of the album. Anchored on a looping progression that seems to forever be rushing into climax but never quite reaching it, Jonas’ vocals dabble with spoken word before flowing back into its signature falsetto and unto the billowing fadeout. Yet both these songs coexist in the same album not feeling out of place. As the album flows from love song to love song, growing calmer and simultaneously more chaotically orchestral, it never loses its footing.
Thematically, Syzygy is very uniform, never straying from themes of love and longing for something more. This comes as no surprise once you realize “Blaue Blume” is German for “Blue Flower”. In this case, being a Danish band with a German name is not without its meaning or purpose. The symbol of the Blaue Blume first appeared in an unfinished poem by German author Novalis in a coming-of-age story entitled ”Heinrich von Ofterdingen” to symbolize the joining of human and nature and of contemplation. Fast forward to 2016, and a Danish band has seemingly stolen the poeticism of a delicate fragment of literary history. But in their own right, the band is expanding upon the sentiments found in the long-forgotten poem, giving new life to a theme long overdue for a good resuscitation.
It may not be the work of a band that’s tapped into something groundbreaking, but that was never the goal for Blaue Blume. The instrumentation is not without its flaws, sometimes meandering into that oft-repeated sin of staying by the books and letting a defining sound consume an album. Syzygy, for a debut, is something of a spectacle. It relies on its influences without exuding the plasticity that comes with retreading rehashed material. It brings life to lifeless, energy back to a genre devoid of a heartbeat. It’s not the most original album of the year, but it’s certainly one of the most endearing.
– Tiago M.