The first solo album since 2016’s “Elephant” (Dronarivm) sees Swedish Sound Artist Dag Rosenqvist join Hidden Vibes’ ever growing catalog of fine artists (Hakobune, offthesky, Olan Mill, Chihei Hatekeyama and others). Since the last album he has kept himself busy with collaborations with the likes of Matthew Collins (“Hello Darkness”), Dakota Suite & Emmanuele Errante (“What Matters Most”) From The Mouth Of The Sun (“Sleep Stations”) as well as the soundtrack work “The Length of Sweden”. With “Blood Transmission” he sets about creating a slightly dark and grainy, but at times vibrant and violent electronic work that flows so nicely together, you suspect that it is a concept album of sorts, and to a certain extent it is.
Rosenqvist states: “Blood Transmission” is an exorcism. It’s about repetition as a way of letting go. It’s about the blood you inherit and how you choose to let that define you. It’s about everything you could and should have said or done, but didn’t. In the end its about finding closure.”
As well as the aforementioned “Length of Sweden” Rosenqvist alongside From The Mouth of The Sun partner Aaron Martin scored the feature film “Menashe”. It is both these, while probably not musically, but structurally influence “Blood Transmission’s” cinematic feel. Rosenqvist knows how to build tension and suspense taking his time to construct works that alternate shades of light, vary the sonic texture and know when to grab the listener by the throat. There is a balance between instruments such as piano and the electronics which largely dominate the album which accentuates the tension that exists throughout.
With a gentle droning track (“Hymn) easing you for the full album, things are noticeably different when “From Lakes To Rivers” emerges from its field recording microsound beggining with a detritus like quality. Synth lines reveal themselves underneath the like squall before building with a kaleidoscope of sound as tribal-ish bears kick in. The Synth has a buzzing menace to which, when taking the title into consideration is like a rush of blood to the head. The script is flipped with the distant and naked “Waters 1” which has an eerie film that covers the fragilic piano and rippling drones. While not as threatening as the previous track, the sheer unease that the fabric of the piece is constructed with, is equally effective. “A Single Point” works in a similar way, but relies on slow droning tones and atmospherics to create its tension. Organically building and utilizing field recordings, Rosenqvist creates a post apocalyptic soundscape that is as moody as it is unsettling.
The second installment in the “Waters” trilogy begins in Richard Charter-like near silence before the gritty electronics rumble across and Morse code like tones flicker, resulting in one of the more experimental of cuts. “Leave Everything You Love Behind” other than having the best title I have come across this year, follows the template that has thus far been set down. Flowing drones laced with dread, layered Synths, grittiness before taking a 90° turn and mixing in a proggy sci-fi Synth sound as well as increasing the intensity with both synth rhythms and a swell of sound that reaches an early crescendo before becoming a mournful drone piece. “Waters III” furthers the experimental experimental touches of its predecessors with slashes of sounds mixed in with drones before abruptly disappearing.
On the penultimate track “From Rivers To The Sea” Rosenqvist emerges from what sounds like buried vinyl static that has a whispy and stormy feel with a coating of graininess. Slowly electronics peak their way through giving a glimpse to where the music will take us. The environment becomes full of chopped up and flickering electronics with this throbbing dark bass line snaking its way around supported by minimal beats. The beats start to pound propelling the track forward before it really roars into life, in someway reminiscent of Mogwai’s forays into electronic music. The music pounds the listener into submission as well as excites them and returns Rosenqvist to the cinematic sphere. Bringing the collection to a close is “Absolutes” and going by its relaxed Modern Classical like mood which feels almost like a stripped down and slowed down version of “Hymn”. Maybe after the dust has settled after the previous track and the emotions have been cast adrift, this is the sound of acceptance or at least recognition. It is in ways both a fitting and curious way to end the album. Fitting because of what I have said above, curious because of the musical difference between it and the other tracks.
A look at the track list gives an indication of its narrative as well (“From Lakes to Rivers”, “From Rivers To Seas”, “Leave Everything You Love Behind”). It shows the changes through the titles and drops clues as to how they represent the music.”Blood Transmission” is one of those albums best listened to in a sitting track after track. Dissecting each track or listening to them in isolation from each other doesn’t give the full force of this very visceral and enjoyable release. The album is available on standard CD, deluxe CD and Digital.