The new album by Swedish duo A Swarm of the Sun, The Rifts, will be released in January. The band describe the release as “a bleak and beautiful journey through the innermost landscapes of the heart and soul. A brooding album about losing hope, dreams falling apart, isolation and final moments of clarity and redemption.” What that translates too, sonically, is something in the vein of Cult of Luna crossed with Sigur Rós in a particularly depressed mood—slow, melancholy music that gradually evolves into roaring post-metal. We’re premiering the first single, “Infants,” today. Stream it below:
A Swarm of the Sun is Erik Nilsson and Jakob Berglund. On the album, they’re joined by guest musicians Karl Daniel Lidén of Vaka and the Old Wind on drums; Anders Carlström of the Isolation Process on bass; Anna Carlsson on vocals; Minna Heimo on pipe organ; and Robin Bergh of Aoria on vibraphone.
The Rifts is available for pre-order now from the label—get it on Bandcamp.
Jakob Berglund answered some questions via email.
What was the initial inspiration for this album, and what was the moment in the process when the project became clear to you in your mind?
Both me and Erik felt it was time for a new album. I was going through some very hard personal experiences which generated thoughts and emotions that had to be dealt with in some way. Erik had a handful of ideas and song sketches he had written on piano, and I already had the base concept laid out: album title, track names, a few key emotional references and parts of lyrics. Then we started to talk about it, and lay the groundwork for the continued writing process. We collected all ideas, references and thoughts in a notebook that eventually transformed in to something reminiscent of a script. It might sound overly methodological or instrumental, but it really was a very fluid and intuitive process. As the writing process continued, it became a reflection on things that happened in life on the side. This was always part of the initial idea: to create something very structural and conceptual, but still dynamic enough to be shaped by life during the process. But as always, these kind of things take on a life of its own after awhile. It becomes what it wants to become.
What do you see as evolutionary changes in your music from your debut recording to this one?
I think we have matured immensely, in the sense that each album feels more sincere. We have always tried to stay as honest as possible, and this time I really feel that we’ve reached close enough to some kind of truth to be able to leave all pretense behind. Or maybe we are just getting older and don’t care much about how we fit in? Anyway, the result is an album that is much darker and more dynamic than its predecessors. It’s something that I am finally completely satisfied with. Proud even.
Do you give thought to the visuals while the music is being composed, or does that side of it all come afterwards?
The visuals are an essential part of the full experience, and have been so from the very beginning. They evolve and develop in parallel with the music, but sure, things tend to have a natural order: for example, the album artwork production comes after the album is done. I do everything on the visual side myself—videos, design, album artwork, web design, T-shirt prints and so on—because we treat every detail as equally important. Hopefully this leads to an intuitive consistency, even for elements that are not directly tied to the core concept. For the same reason, we release the albums through Erik’s own label Version Studio Records. In the end, we discuss a lot, nitpick everything, leave nothing to chance and make sure we are both in full control of every possible little thing.
Do you perform live, and if so how many of the people involved in the album are present for performances?
We have no immediate plans for live performances. If it were to happen for The Rifts, it would have to be something extraordinarily great. We would treat it on the same level as writing an album. At the moment we prioritize writing over performing, so we will most likely start writing new music as soon as possible. But if the right opportunity for a live show comes, we would do it for sure. It would probably open up for new ways to evolve musically, and probably be extremely fun.