Bloodgroup – Tracing Echoes

Bloodgroup photo: Sigríður Ella Frímannsdóttir

Electropop quartet Bloodgroup is a quite well-known band in Poland. The project has been developing for eight years spreading wide the energy and it has released three albums until today. Let’s focus on the latest one – the darkest, the most different and so far the most surprising. The album entitled Tracing Echoes was out in February 2013 and one month later it appeared in Polish record shops.

The album opens with A Threat. From the very first sound we can hear that this is still the same Icelandic band that can elicit energy from some place deep under the surface of the earth. One of the compositions entitled A King’s Woe is based on such a ground. But even during the opening song we can feel that there will be more space on Tracing Echoes for sinking into the darkness. Occasionally, a male vocal in the first song brings to my mind accomplishments of Thom Yorke but it adds only more charm to the wholeness.

Speaking of vocals – Tracing Echoes is also the first album of Bloodgroup recorded with Sunna Þórisdóttir so she could show us how freely she spreads her wings. In vocal part of Nothing is written in the stars you can hear only her voice that a little bit reminds in some way Lana del Rey, although the entire song is more in a trip-hop mood. Faster songs that include only a female vocal (like The Water or Lines) present also more of Sunna’s own characteristic style.

Bloodgroup ran away from offering only dance floor’s rhytms some time ago. Somehow, they buried underground their pugnacious tone like from the debut album. However, they started evolving into distant, sometimes wild spaces that create a new level of the sound that except of making a listener dancing also throws him into the deep water giving an additional loading of not too light lyrics.

Perhaps this impression arrives also due to reinforcing of the rhythmic part with drums like in the song Nothing is written in the stars. But it’s not the only moment like that. You can already feel a spring rain’s shower of the earlier mentioned instrument in Disquiet and also in catchy Fall that was one of the singles promoting the album. In this song you can hear that old good Bloodgroup.

Making this specific sounds of Icelandic coolness more intensive, the musicians used once again string arrangements (in Nothing is written in the stars or appearing in the background of The Water) composed traditionally by Ólafur Arnalds.

You can also discovered thanks to this album how big impact on the composed songs has Janus Rasmussen, a singer and a magician of electronic music. It happens very often that whatever he touches turns out well. He has his own unique and recognizable style and he cannot be accused of being boring. Janus still serves rhytms that make the heart beats faster and he passes on his personal energy making people dance like in Cut out your tongue or Indefinate. Let your fears go, mind is turbulent. All your thoughts are pulsating.

A graphic design that is work of Heiðrik á Heygum (also a director of one of Bloodgroup’s videos) in collaboration with photographer Sigríður Ella Frímannsdóttir complements a dark side of energizing Bloodgroup. The cover art is black and white and the entire booklet is decorated in shades of heavy grey and black. Staring inside, we can see Bloodgroup’s members giving us a look with one eye that can be seen like through a kind of kaleidoscope.

This dark album closes with lazily beginning song entitled Mysteries undone that explodes in the final with the brightness of Sunna’s voice. Too bright for your eyes.

Despite the final explosion, the music of Bloodgroup has nothing in common with the white nights. The material presented on Tracing Echoes is very winter, sometimes muted but also is able to crush a barrier of releasing energy. It feels like the album was made during winter darkness and such an atmosphere is the best for listening to it. This review could appear a long time ago but in retrospect I can say that Tracing Echoes includes music to listen to not only for a moment. I want to return to this record. So actually without batting an eye I can call it the best Icelandic electronic album of 2013.

Bloodgroup - Tracing Echoes (cover art)Bloodgroup – Tracing Echoes
1. A Threat
2. Disquiet
3. Nothing is written in the stars
4. Fall
5. Cut out your tongue
6. The Water
7. Indefinite
8. A King’s Woe
9. Lines
10. Mysteries undone

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