Blood Transmission is Dag Rosenqvist’s first solo album in three years. Welcome back! This is Dag in a thoughtful frame of mind; the notes are as sparse as an empty room, missing extravagant embellishments save for the necessary furniture. Everything is in order, uncluttered, highly organised, as if the music had suffered a visit from Marie Kondo and her never-ending checklist. Dag’s music does spark joy, but it’s restrained. Things are slow to get going (which is a good thing).
A whipping wind jettisons into the atmosphere, freefalling into the track, and jagged, triangular synth-teeth burst up from the bedrock, taking clean bites out of the atmosphere with a nightmarish ferocity to match the shark in Jaws, whose naughty antics plagued the coastal town of Amity all those years ago. The danger is there – often hidden, concealing itself in the lower half of the sea’s horizontal divide – but it’s not shy to rise up and make your acquaintance when it wants to. Notes bubble up from the fathomless deep, and something is always building just beneath the track, the tension festooning around the outskirts of the track like an incoming headache. The pulsating heartbeat doesn’t let up; it keeps pumping and the legs keep on running, draining the battery and recording thousands of steps on its Fitbit.
Blood Transmission is all about creating and destroying. Soft piano interludes seep into the cracks, while behemoth synths snap back in a vicious attack. It’s not an immediate threat: it comes at you from angles, with a Hadouken and a side-punch. Before you know it, the track is in the process of munching on aural take-out, a speedy devouring of the atmosphere it had first scented and then tracked and then attacked. Rolling synths avalanche and create an unstoppable force.
Penultimate track ‘From Rivers to the Sea’ could have generated from a F*** Buttons album thanks to the heavy thumping of the beat and the electrocuted synth, forming a progression of raw and euphoric power, but quieter waters are never far away. Take the finale, ‘Absolutes’, which lands on a Queen-sized bed made of soft feathers. A piano comes to clean up the synth’s atrocity, daylight clearing away the debris. It’s another moment of renewal in an album that’s peppered with them. The piano is a steady stream, its water flowing like blood and its blood flowing like water. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.