Experimental/Post Rock A Swarm of the Sun is primarily a recording project by the Swedish duo Erik Nilsson and Jakob Berglund. On this, their second album, they are joined by several guest musicians who contribute vocals, vibraphone, and pipe organ to name but a few instruments to the familiar guitars and drums. The album’s artwork is a good reflection of what lies within. The different shades of blue dying flowers offers insight into a music, which is atmospheric, bleak, and oddly beautiful. This could quite easily be a soundtrack to a film or drama set in an unrelenting cold surrounding, whereby a profound disturbing truth of the human condition could be played out, while snippets of goodness give slight glimmers of hope.
The album feels like one piece of music/movement, which switches between quiet, sparse, eerie piano, like the opener ‘There’s blood on your hands’, to bursts of immense layers of guitars powered by driving drum rhythms as on ‘Incarceration’.
There are two distinctively longer tracks with the 9 minutes long ‘Infants’ which begins quietly then, on my first listen quite literally a jump out of your skin moment, explodes with a flurry of sound. The slightly longer 10 minutes Mogwai esque epic ‘These depths were always meant for both of us’ also starts softly then bursts in with a sound that is intense, immense, and strangely beautiful until it quietens down for some, unlike Mogwai, vocals. This is one of only three tracks with lyrics and they also contribute to the doom-laden feel throughout, ‘and hope has never seem so far away’. This is quite breathtaking.
The title track begins with military death-march style drumming and funeral bell tolls style guitar strumming but develops into a captivating, evocative, and haunting instrumental. The album closes with ‘All the love and glory’ with chilling piano and doom guitar power chords to end this emotionally heavy piece of work.
This is a solitary sit down and listen album which is moodily downbeat in atmosphere and tone, but nevertheless, is a worthwhile listening experience, and quite immense in its well thought out structure and scope. Now what about that live performance?