Elias from Iceage creates some heavy, heady electronica
If all you’ve heard about Iceage and their friends on the Copenhagen scene is frothing discussions about knives and Nazis, the debut album from Vår might take you by surprise. Born out of an intense friendship between Iceage frontman Elias Rønnenfelt and Loke Rahbek, founder of Copenhagen label Posh Isolation, Vår are far removed from Iceage’s blasts of fear and fury. Jagged guitars and flailing drums are replaced by electronic beats and cloudy, droning synths. In place of aggression, there is vulnerability and sensuality. In photos, Elias and Loke hold hands, or kiss. In the project’s earliest days, it was called War, but now they’ve changed their name to the gentler Vår, Danish for ‘spring’.
Now expanded to four with the addition of Lower’s Kristian Emdal and Lukas Højlund of Redflesh, Vår recorded their debut album on borrowed equipment in the Bushwick record shop of Sean Ragon, frontman of New York’s Cult Of Youth. The result smears together synth-pop, goth and martial folk, with a prevailing sense of beautiful, doomed desolation. On ‘Begin To Remember’, Elias croons over cresting synths and beaten toms straight out of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’. ‘Into Distance’ imagines black-clad bodies adrift in a baking desert, powered by acoustic guitars and doomy trumpet peals. At times, it nears straight-up electro-pop, although Loke’s apocalyptic baritone on ‘The World Fell’ casts a shadow across the dancefloor. ‘Motionless Duties’ is a duet between Elias and Loke. It might be a love song, of sorts, but it’s hard to be sure.
‘No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers’ feels engorged with meaning, though it’s tricky to unpick. But not since The Cure’s ‘Faith’ has a group pulled off such a feat of heavy, heady melancholy.