May 4th, 2023
Photo by Jonas Dahlberg
Solblomma (Sweden) – Pale Like A Clown [Hall 1] (Single/Track From Forthcoming Album)
It’s been a while since Solblomma was last here, back in October 2021, just after we started, with a video for a re-released song called ‘The Station,’ one which, she said, “is about what all my songs are about. Waiting. Waiting for something … I do not know what”.
She’s usually highly productive so I should have guessed the 18-month gap during which I’ve waited for some new material was accounted for by the writing of an album. (Apart from the fact that she’s involved in all manner of other pursuits including theatre, children’s books, performing as a clown and writing headache inducing IQ puzzles).
Never underestimate this lady’s brainpower.
And what an album; one that gives her free rein to experiment with a ‘concept’; something she was born to do.
‘Tiptoe into limbo’, which will be released on May 19th is a monster of a thing and I suppose a natural consequence to where she was going with the 2016 compilation album, the last one, ‘Zombic Bombs and Dr Pouts.’
Its 11 compositions combine to tell a mystical tale set around Dante’s Divine Comedy but interwoven with the mundane reality of daily life in the 21st century in an epic production to rival that of the character Rael’s underworld adventure in Genesis’ ‘The Lamb lies down on Broadway’.
The story takes place in Hell, in Dante Alighieri’s allegorical poem La Divina Commedia. In his comedy, set around Easter in the year 1300, Dante undertakes a journey through the three kingdoms that are thought to await man after death: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise).
But in Solblomma’s liberal interpretation of the work, the author is excluded. Apparently and unlike U2, he’s already found what he’s looking for. Instead, she makes the perilous journey herself, then with the Roman poet Virgil in tow, through two halls and the nine circles of Hell.
Along the way they get to encounter the underworld’s immortal ferryman Charon, cross the River Acheron, and voyage down through the funnel of Hell. They tiptoe into Limbo, meet Kerberos, the multi-headed Hound of Hades, fight with lions, hide in the Charles Wain (the star cluster in the Big Dipper) and then…check into a hotel!
Only Solblomma could end such an epic journey at a Travelodge reception desk.
This is the first track, ‘Pale like a clown’, released as the first single prior to the album, and possibly the only one as the album is only three weeks away.
She sets the scene:
“I’m lost in the woods and pale as a clown. Virgil, take my hand! The sun doesn’t belong here. We can tune the violin. Something good is waiting on the highest hill.”
Don’t get it? Well you haven’t entered the Solblomma psyche yet, that’s all. She gets you thinking right from the off. Yes, clowns are pale but they are also colourful as she well knows from dressing up as one. In what way is a clown a metaphor for pale?
Musically it starts off with a sound like a cruise liner leaving port; Phileas Fogg starting off on his 80-day trek around the world perhaps, and to a subdued melody not that dissimilar to Urban Cookie Collective’s ‘The Key, the Secret,’ which ticks a huge box for me straight away.
Then a powerful string section comes in which could be the prelude to a piece of symphonic metal before the main theme arrives, a peculiar melange of pop, electronic and even trip hop, wrapped up in break beats and that unique vocal of hers which can sound like Kate Bush on helium. And other substances.
Make no mistake about it; this is a composition, not a song. And for good measure you can dance to it. I’m not sure what Virgil would have made of that. When he isn’t working on his Aeneid.
This is possibly the most powerful piece I’ve heard from Solblomma, and I’ll certainly be reviewing the full album.
And for good measure she sets aside the heavily accentuated voice for a moment towards the end and proves, as if anyone ever doubted it, that she can sing perfectly sweetly in a ‘normal’ voice if she wants to.
I was talking only the other day about Denmark’s Slagger Lund, a character if ever there was one and how the music business needs them desperately to counteract the TV talent show blandness that has overwhelmed it in recent years.
Solblomma comes right out of the same mould.
The single is streaming now via Blomkraft Records, her own label.