Two themes dominate Blaue Blume’s new album Bell Of Wool, darkness and adventure. With the record mostly made before singer Jonas Smith slipped into a depressive episode, the album’s lyrics and moods draw pictures of the darkness, anxiety and tension that would mark Smith’s depression: “A lot of the lyrics kind of draw these states of mind and situations that I actually found myself in, just months after I had written them”, he says. But ultimately Smith, and the band, pulled through, and the completed Bell Of Wool marks a step forward for a new and bolder era of their work.
The album’s title comes from the sense of helplessness Jonas was afflicted with, and a dream that provided him with the metaphor for the trapped listlessness he was feeling: “I dreamt this title, and it’s not even a cliché, it actually happened”, he says. “I woke up and wrote the title on a piece of paper. I remember seeing this bell in front of me and seeing it ringing, but I wasn’t able to hear it. It was a very small image, but it was such a nightmare because my idea of a bell was totally changed, because its function had been taken from it”. Music, and the band, were a way out of the darkness for him: “It made sense to make that a sticker for the record, and then we could make the music the ringing of the bell”.
Sonically, the album sounds a distance away from anything they’ve done before. Indie and electro pop and rock are out, and instead the album is crafted from soft, glowing synthscapes, dawns and skies transformed into sounds. Even on hints of their older work, like on the acoustics of “Rain Rain”, the synthwork comes into the picture and swells the song into something bigger and more majestic.
Opener “Swimmer” introduces the listener to the softness and subtlety of the new sound, whereas songs like “Morgensol” and “Bombard” show it at its biggest and more grand.
The adventure comes into the songwriting on the new album, which saw the trio determined to escape the restraints of conventional songwriting, and put together something more intuitive. “I think for the first time, we’ve managed to do something that wasn’t thought-through to the end before we recorded it”, says Søren. “We didn’t plan it out, and there wasn’t a blueprint. We’ve always been excessive demo-makers, to figure everything out before the final take. This time we recorded things just if they felt good before it made sense and that feeling stuck in the music. That’s why I think we can play it, a year and a half later, and it still feels surprising. That’s a strength for me, that I hope people will get it”.
“It’s definitely something we’ve moving towards”, says Jonas. “Trying to break from the traditional way of making a traditional pop song. We talked about this while making Bell Of Wool, we had this picture of a song consisting of just choruses, one chorus taking over from another with no repetitions, a smash hit with 30 different choruses in three minutes. We haven’t managed that yet, but things like that were in our mind when making the songs. We had the idea of strong sections of the song only occurring once – how would that make the listener feel? Would they want to return to the song? It was ideas of creating songs that flowed in a linear structure. It’s something we tried to achieve, and now we’re trying to perfect it even more”.
Started and nearly finished several years ago, Smith’s sickness threw the record’s process, and the band’s existence, into severe doubt. But eventually, the strength of the band pulled them through, and they put the finishing touches on Bell Of Wool. “When Jonas got sick we were 90% done, or we thought we were, so that wasn’t something I thought a lot about. I think there were six months after Jonas got sick where we didn’t touch it. Then we slowly started to discuss it again, and talk about how we would finish it if we were going to finish it. Just getting into the mindset to finish it, once we were ready”.
“It’s funny how the song really feels fresh to us, like we left something unanswered in every song”, says Jonas. “And there’s so much I can’t figure out. We tried to keep it fresh while mixing it as well. Tried to be impulsive about editing. If it felt good, it was good. The process of making the album was very spontaneous and fast, by our standards, so we wanted to keep that into editing. We didn’t know exactly what it was I felt like. When I heard it again, after coming back from a very dark place, I was immediately struck by the very explicit pictures I drew, that I could now relate to another way. But mostly I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. It’s different from anything else we’ve ever done, which has been very perfectionist. This is spontaneous, fresh”.
Despite the darkness of the journey it was made along, the band feel Bell Of Wool marks a new era for them, and a return to the purity of spirit they had when they started the band a decade ago: “I feel we were a bit lost in our goals, in a way”, says Jonas. “Now being back in the rehearsal space, I find myself finding the right goals again. Which is being with these people I care about, who have been such a huge part of my whole life. And it’s so special to stand there and feel that symbiosis, and not even thinking about it having to have a commercial purpose. We’ve stopped thinking about having to play this stage, or having so many streams or whatever. Now it’s for our sake again. I was sure I was never going to play music again, something I’d done my whole life. When I felt this dark thing in me, and my body collapsed around it, I totally gave up on music. Of course, it grew naturally within me again, wanting to do music, and now I feel I’m doing it for the right reasons, with the right guys. Mentally, we’re back to where and why we started”.