Bella Union are thrilled to announce Heba, the debut album by hotly-tipped Danish quintet Lowly - as uniquely sensual, rhythmic and mesmerising brand of modern pop as you’ll hear in 2017: restlessly inventive, exquisitely melodic, and defying easy categorisation.
The band describe their music as, “noise-pop, and everything in between.” In this case, ‘noise’ refers to the textures and treatments that the quintet mould from laptop and guitar, which give Lowly’s spacious songs unpredictable, shape-shifting qualities, iced by Nanna Schannong’s radiant voice – all brilliantly layered by the band and co-producer Anders Boll, Efterklang’s long-trusted engineer/soundman.
“We think of our music and lyrics more like a painting, we think everything should all melt together,” says synthesiser player Kasper Staub. “We’re all interested in developing ourselves as songwriters, and working in new ways, with different ideas.”
Lowly first met at the musical academy in Aarhus, Denmark, with Staub alongside Schannong (lead vocals, guitar), Soffie Viemose (lead vocals, laptop), Thomas Lund (bass, Moog) and Steffen Lundtoft (drums, percussion). Despite all five studying different subjects, and having their own bands on the go, “and having very different tastes” (the only band they can agree on is Radiohead), they quickly found an enviable chemistry. “Though we were not trying hard, Lowly slowly took over,” Staub recalls. “It was just fun and felt so easy, and inspiring.”
Two independently released singles found their way outside of Denmark, inspiring the Guardian to include Lowly in a ‘Five must-listen new tracks from around the world’ round-up, while The Line Of Best Fit swooned to an “idyllic, height of summer sonic landscape…total bliss…Nordic pop does not get bigger.”
Having tracked the band for a year, it was after seeing Lowly play the Spot festival in Aarhus that Bella Union skipper Simon Raymonde signed the band, which made its label debut in 2015 with the Sink Way Into Me EP. But it was autumn 2016’s single ‘Deer Eyes’ that confirmed the giant leap forward that is Heba. Further embellishing the album’s scope and impact are guests Jacob Danielsen on tenor sax and bass clarinet and soprano singer Anna Maria Wierød on ‘Still Life’, the album’s spinetingling opener, and the first tantalising lyric (“Do I frustrate you? she said / I really don’t mean to / We’re merely lucky collections of particles and some stick together more than others”), collectively written by Schannong, Viemose and Staub.
“Lyrically, we start with abstract, but it can get personal too,” says Staub. The album title Heba is named after the band’s Syrian friend: “She moved to Denmark to live with her husband and to be safe from the war in Syria,” says Staub. “We are not a particularly political band, but we recorded the album while thousands of people were fleeing and getting killed. The frustration of Europe and our own country being unwilling to help, and bureaucracy being valued higher than human lives, affected us deeply. There are lyrics about that, but also your average love song, which Heba also is a symbol of.”
“There isn’t a band out there today like them, which is thrilling,” concludes Simon Raymonde. “To make music that is both emotional and influential at this early stage, shows that Lowly a band of limitless possibilities.”