iamamiwhoami — Blue
°≡° Znepokojující závěr je, že stejně jako její výkon ve videích, jakkoli skvělých, Jonna Emily Lee Nilsson může s tímto projektem brzy šlapat vodu. (S více než než 31 milionů shlédnutí na YouTube, iamamiwhoami).
°≡° Přesto považuji toto album za sensatory poklad, který Lee výstižně popisuje jako “emocionální, expresivní, a nadčasové, které má blízko k přírodě.”
°≡° Beguiling electronic project initiated with a series of mysterious viral videos, later revealed as the work of Sweden's Jonna Lee and Claes Björklund.
Formed: 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden
Birth name: Jonna Emily Lee Nilsson
Born: October 3, 1981, Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Album release: November 10, 2014
Record Label: To whom it may concern
01 Fountain 6:09
02 Hunting for Pearls 5:41
03 Vista 5:16
04 Tap Your Glass 5:21
05 Blue Blue 5:23
06 Thin 4:45
07 Chasing Kites 5:02
08 Ripple 4:51
09 The Last Dancer 4:40
10 Shadowshow 5:39
°≡° All songs written and composed by Jonna Lee and Claes Björklund.
Producer: Claes Björklund
Blue island (exclusive digital edition)
01. "wave" 0:39
02. "fountain" 6:00
03. "hunting for pearls" 5:16
04. "pearl" 0:59
05. "vista" 5:04
06. "melter" 0:27
07. "tap your glass" 5:14
08. "afloat" 0:31
09. "blue blue" 5:27
10. "thin" 5:33
11. "air" 0:17
12. "chasing kites" 5:11
13. "ripple" 3:35
14. "arrival" (also titled "blue lake") 1:24
15. "the last dancer" 4:47
16. "shadowshow" 5:24
17. "dive" 4:29
18. "Blue continuous" 52:52
Total length: 113:09
℗ & © 2014 To whom it may concern.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Blue.
°≡° Jonna Lee — executive music & visual production, instruments, lyrics, mixing, music, vocals
°≡° Claes Björklund — instruments, mixing, music, music production, vocals
°≡° Klara Bjärkstedt — additional costume
°≡° D–E–F — management
°≡° Eric Härle — management
°≡° Chris Higham — technical film team
°≡° Beatrice Johansson — visual production coordination
°≡° Viktor Kumlin — technical film team
°≡° Mathieu Mirano — costume
°≡° Agustin Moreaux — additional costume
°≡° Björn Olin — technical film team
°≡° Jan Scharlau — artwork, graphic design
°≡° Dan Smith — mastering
°≡° John Strandh — cinematography, still photography
°≡° WAVE — post–production, visual material directors
°≡° Limited CD and 12–inch vinyl LP editions of Blue, as well as a CD and LP bundle, were made exclusively available via To whom it may concern.'s official online shop on 10 November 2014. All three editions include a 48–page book with lyrics and the Blue photo series.
°≡° An exclusive digital edition of the album, titled Blue island, was released on 10 November 2014, taking the form of a website. Created by To whom it may concern. in collaboration with creators of the iamamiwhoami fansite iambountyfan, the Blue island website and community home allows fans to either download or stream all parts of the album in high resolution (including audio, films, moving and still image series, and lyrics), as well as share the album's content with other users. A visitors' pass was also made available, giving fans streaming access only.
2014 Blue Top Heatseekers #34
Professional ratings/Aggregate scores/Source, Rating:
°≡° Metacritic 71/100
°≡° AllMusic 4/5 stars
°≡° DIY 3/5 stars
°≡° Loud and Quiet 5/10
°≡° musicOMH 3.5/5 stars
°≡° NME 7/10
°≡° Nothing but Hope and Passion 3.1/5
°≡° Pitchfork Media 6.1/10.0
°≡° PopMatters 8/10
°≡° Uncut 6/10
°≡° Blue received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on nine reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Evan Sawdey of PopMatters opined that Blue "isn't only the most satisfying record in the collective's discography; it's also one of the best albums released this year." Heather Phares of AllMusic concluded, "In its own way, this album might be Lee and Björklund's most balanced and unified work yet; it's certainly a confident journey into uncharted waters for the duo." Leonie Cooper of the NME wrote, "At times [...] it feels like Lee has overdosed on the Drive soundtrack. Ultimately though, sensitivity outweighs '80s cliché." Alex Jeffery of musicOMH viewed that "while Blue 's electropop soundscapes are hardly a great move forwards from their first two projects, there are genuinely majestic emotional moments to savour here." El Hunt of DIY noted that "BLUE 's watery explorations demonstrate an intriguing new facet to the project, but it might well come at the expense of the fearsome impact that earlier releases packed in the shedload."
°≡° Pitchfork Media's Sasha Geffen expressed that the album "encloses [Lee] in a space where she's far too safe", describing the song "thin" as "a rare moment of intrigue on an album that's generous in its beauty while leaving little to wonder about, a sky that never rains." Miriam Wallbaum of Nothing but Hope and Passion praised Blue as "an elaborated total work of art, consisting of strong videos and harmonious pop–melodies", but suggested that "the music doesn't work on it's own: leaving out the visuality, the record is only another ordinary standard pop album." Chris Watkeys of Loud and Quiet concurred, commenting on how "[t]he visual aspect of the project is so superbly expressive that it feels churlish to denounce something so brave, ambitious, and visually compelling, but the music does need to stand up by itself, and it only occasionally does so". At Uncut, Graeme Thomson felt that "between their 2012 debut, Kin, and their latest, Blue, the Stockholm duo have lost some of their Fever Ray–like ability to surprise and unsettle. Stripped of the visual element, what remains here is sparkling Nordic synth–pop, uplifting and accessible, but increasingly conventional."
Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
°≡° Iamamiwhoami's very name suggests that the project involves continual change and self–discovery, so it's only natural that Jonna Lee and Claes Björklund offer a different twist on their expansive electropop with Blue. Just as Kin was a more cohesive and accessible collection than Bounty, the pair's third collaboration is more streamlined, with an even more pronounced contrast between light and dark. Lee and Björklund touch on the spookier, more mystical side of their music with the standouts "Hunting for Pearls" and "Shadowshow," but most of Blue evokes a cloudless day at the beach. The album's sound is decidedly aquatic, with synths that ripple like water, sparkle like ice, and ebb and flow like tides on the dreamy ballad "Fountain" and "Tap Your Glass," where steel drum–like tones complete its sunny feel. It's a remarkable change from the murky, witchy sounds of Bounty, but this cleaner aesthetic suits Iamamiwhoami just as well. Lee and Björklund commit completely to the rapturous sense of wonder that unites songs as disparate as the prickly "Thin" and the meditative euphoria of "Vista," yet the duo also brings subtle depth to this approach. °≡° Blue's most kinetic moments are often the most immediately engaging, whether it's the bright melody of "Chasing Kites" or "Ripple," which sends the album into its home stretch with an irresistible beat. Even these tracks share Blue's soothing cast, which may be most striking on poignant songs like "The Last Dancer" and "Blue Blue." °≡° In its own way, this album might be Lee and Björklund's most balanced and unified work yet; it's certainly a confident journey into uncharted waters for the duo. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
°≡° The innovative online video campaign for iamiamiwhoami’s first project Bounty, initially hinged on the mystery of who was behind them as much as the absorbing textural world of the videos themselves. Eventually revealing themselves as a collaborative outfit comprising performer Jonna Lee, producer Claes Björklund and directors collective WAVE, a second project Kin arrived online, followed by semi–conventional physical releases for both sets of tracks and videos.
°≡° However, having successfully established a relatively small, but feverishly dedicated audience, a question mark over their future hangs heavy in the air. Will a cult audience be enough to sustain the production values of their beautiful videos (rumoured to be heavily subsidised by the more philanthropic corners of the Swedish music industry) in the long term? After choosing to present themselves so firmly as an audiovisual outfit, it seems only fitting to review Blue in those terms although, frustratingly, advance copies have given access to the music, but not the three videos that remain to be released online.
°≡° While the two previous sets of videos entranced and disturbed in equal measures, Blue jettisons much of this mystery in favour of an oceanic transparency, perhaps in attempt to start a fresh, clean slate after the disturbances of Bounty and Kin. The result is a contribution to the emerging genre of music video best described as ‘National Geographic porn’, with the beachside settings for each video passing from Iceland to more exotic tropical climes on their travels. Bon Iver, who debuted their ‘Holocene’ video on the National Geographic channel, went on to release a low–budget video album on YouTube, whose images managed to capture the scintillating micro rhythms of the music far better than Blue’s.
°≡° The seven videos released so far have an unfortunate tendency towards expensive looking helicopter and crane shots, encouraging comparisons with a recent spate of glossy dance videos from the likes of Calvin Harris. The thoughtfully designed textures of their first videos are sacrificed for wide, open vistas, which curiously fail to accentuate the expansiveness of their electropop soundtracks. By the fifth video, the aerial shots of waves and black Zentai suited goons flapping around on the beach are already starting to prove tiresome. The unfortunate effect on the music is to frequently render it less Scandinavian/South Seas mystery and more Ibiza club vacation.
°≡° Which is a shame as, while Blue’s electropop soundscapes are hardly a great move forwards from their first two projects, there are genuinely majestic emotional moments to savour here. The icy grandeur of ‘vista’ is one of the collective’s biggest musical moments yet, while ‘thin’ layers banks of arpeggios over shifting rhythmic plates that even at times hint at a move in the direction of R’n’B. In ‘chasing kites’, for once, fully intelligible lyrics and straightforward synthpop even start to suggest the possibility of a radio hit though ‘blue blue’ courts disaster by sailing too close to a new–agey trance blandness for comfort. Whether all this is an attempt to nudge towards the mainstream, or a purely artistic decision (likely to be the latter given the integrity demonstrated so far by Lee), the result is the same: a perplexing tendency towards vapidity. The worrying conclusion is that, just like her performance in the videos, she may be treading water with this project.
Artist Biography by Heather Phares
°≡° The multimedia electronic music project iamamiwhoami emerged in 2009, piquing the interest of the Internet with a series of viral videos that introduced the artist's music while obscuring the female singer's identity. In December 2009, the project's first two videos were sent to music journalists and blogs via an anonymous e–mail address, with more clues and clips appearing on outlets such as MTV and the project's own YouTube channel. Guesses about the mysterious artist's identity included Björk, Goldfrapp, and the Knife, acts whose music was very much in keeping with iamamiwhoami's approach, to wider–ranging speculation that it was the work of Trent Reznor or Christina Aguilera. In June 2010, iamamiwhoami released a video that revealed the project was the brainchild of Swedish singer/songwriter Jonna Lee (who had been previously guessed by her fans, but her management team at the time had denied her involvement) and co–producer Claes Björklund. That November, iamamiwhoami performed a webcast concert. The following year, iamamiwhoami won the first Swedish Grammi for Innovator of the Year and was also nominated for MTV O Music Awards in the Innovative Artist and Best Web–Born Artist categories, losing to Lady Gaga and Kina Grannis, respectively. iamamiwhoami released two new songs, "john" and "clump," that spring and summer, and held their first live show in August 2011 at Gothenburg, Sweden's Way Out West Festival in August. Early in 2012, iamamiwhoami's YouTube channel teased the digital release of the debut album Kin that June; several singles, including Drops and Good Worker, were released in anticipation of the album. Kin's physical release arrived that September. Bounty, which collected iamamiwhoami's early songs, arrived in June of 2013. Late in 2014, Lee and Björklund returned with Blue, another audiovisual collection that reflected a lighter, brighter sound than their previous output.
Birth name: Claes Erik Mårten Björklund
Also known as: Midnight Ruler
Born: 1971, Motala, Östergötland, Sweden
By Robert Whitfield, 12 November 2014, Score: 8/10
By Alex Jeffery | posted on 10 Nov 2014 | Score: ***½