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A1 - Fall Beyond The Sun
A2 - It's Just Your Style (feat. Jonnine)
A3 - Arrival (Fast Forward Into Love)
A4 - Lights Out (feat. Adam Olenius)
A5 - Nod (feat. Gavsborg)
A6 - Hold Back Love
B1 - Soulhack (feat. Silvana Imam)
B2 - One Million Seconds
B3 - We Will Never Change
B4 - 3AM (feat. Casey MQ)
B5 - Power Ambient Piano Ballad
Produced by Aasthma (Pär Grindvik & Peder Mannerfelt)
Mixed by Aasthma & Johannes Berglund
Artwork by Håkan Ullberg
Arrival, the debut album from Swedish duo Aasthma, is big, bold, bright and utterly fearless. A towering technicolor colossus, it’s described by its creators as a larger-than-life “secular rapture” that sounds like “Justin Bieber meeting up with Rotterdam Terror Corps to do an Abba cover at the Grand Ole Opry.”
The byproduct of a friendship that dates back more than 15 years, Aasthma is a collaboration between Pär Grindvik and Peder Mannerfelt, and while those two are best known individually for their exploits in the techno realm, Arrival isn’t the sort of record that adheres to traditional notions of genre. Calling it a pop album might serve as an effective shorthand, but sonically, it’s a high-fidelity whirlwind, occupying a dazzling soundworld where Top 40 ballads and breakbeat rollers gleefully canoodle with trap bangers, neon-streaked EDM and guttural dancehall.
In many ways, the roots of the album lie in the time Grindvik and Mannerfelt spent working with Fever Ray, literally reworking the Swedish icon’s entire catalog ahead of 2018’s Plunge tour. Having experienced the thrill of pushing electronic music well beyond its usual boundaries — and into a place that was both joyous and refreshingly free of pretense — the two producers were determined to cast off the stale and formulaic “rules” of techno, and Aasthma was born. Although the duo’s initial outings continued to hover around the dancefloor, it didn’t take long for things to open up once Modeselektor invited Aasthma to put together a proper LP for Monkeytown.
Arrival is absolutely Aasthma’s vision, but it’s not exactly a solo effort. On the contrary, Grindvik and Mannerfelt saw the album as a perfect opportunity to reach out to anyone and everyone they’d ever wanted to collaborate with, and steadily assembled an eye-catching cast of contributors. Few acts would dream of enlisting both the sultry melancholy of HTRK vocalist Jonnine Standish (It’s Just Your Style) and the swaggering rhymes of Swedish rapper Silvana Imam (Soulhack), but Aasthma did just that and more, lining up what they describe as a “dream mixtape” that includes the talents of Shout Out Louds frontman Adam Olenius (Lights Out), Equiknoxx co-founder Gavsbourg (Nod), glittery pop crooner Casey MQ (3am) and the broodingly cinematic Malcom Pardon, who actually plays on several tracks, including the emotionally stirring, static-filled LP closer Power Ambient Power Ballad.
Mixed by Aasthma together with Johannes Berglund (who’s previously worked with FKA Twigs, The Knife and Fever Ray), Arrival combines technicolor maximalism with the trademark sheen of Scandinavian pop. Designed to inspire awe, the album is primed for bright lights and big stages — and yes, Aasthma are currently developing an appropriately bombastic live show — but rattling skulls and splitting eardrums, as easy as that might be, isn’t their end goal. Aasthma are more interested in fostering feelings of wonder, elation and togetherness, so those seeking winking irony or emotional half-measures are best advised to look elsewhere. Arrival is an unencumbered celebration, and few things bring people together faster than an undeniable pop hook.