Stockholm Noir | DIV (debut album)
On this last day of 2018, the anonymous electronic music collective Stockholm Noir releases its debut album DIV. To be precise (according to the album's press release), it's been 619 days since their first appearance and a series of 13 single releases that all started with "Hopeless Dreams" in April 2017.
While Stockholm Noir has frequently been noted as presenting a darker side of electronic music, the overall theme and feel of DIV undoubtedly elevates that assessment to a more pronounced level. For starters, the ten new songs that comprise DIV are each named after a demon. The musical theme is primarily instrumental electronic with just three of the tracks ("Mara", "Gader'el", "Mammon") featuring accompanying vocals. Thematically, the music feels like it transitions from the more melodic and upbeat to brooding and mysterious as the album progresses.
Opening track "Aamon" presents a steady-paced, resonating synth arpeggio that builds in speed and intensity to its soaring, club-friendly peak. "Mara", the first single from the album, comes with Swedish lyrics and musically reminds me a bit of late 80's/early 90's German dancefloor act Mysterious Art (e.g., "Requiem", "Carma"). The unsettling piano notes of "Orcus" conjure up flashes of The Exorcist and Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. The steady, pulsing "Gader'el" is another standout track and would be a great single choice. If you haven't picked up on the 'creepy/uneasy' vibe of DIV by the time you slide into the second half of the album, you definitely will on closing track "Dumah" and its 'doll tea party' tale about the uninvited sinister guest in black.
DIV is an impressive debut album from Stockholm Noir, with sophisticated, modern electronic music veiled in an enticing shroud of mystery and the unknown. Give it a listen!