Copenhagen’s Iceage – Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Jakob Tvilling Pless, Johan Surrballe Wieth, and Dan Kjær Nielsen – announce their fifth album, Seek Shelter, out May 7th on Mexican Summer. Today, they present a new single/video, “Vendetta,” which follows “The Holding Hand,” “an ominous transmission from a band who can summon a storm like few others” (Pitchfork). Enrolling Sonic Boom (Pete Kember of Spacemen 3) to produce the record and an additional guitarist in the form of Casper Morilla Fernandez, Seek Shelter sees Iceage’s propulsive momentum pushing them in new, expansive, ecstatic directions. A decade on from their first record, Iceage continue to harness their lives together through music.
Rønnenfelt casts the influence of Kember, the band’s first outside producer, as that of a sparring partner, another wayward mind to bounce ideas off of (along with Shawn Everett, who mixed the record) to help shape the sound. For Seek Shelter’s story of scorched-earth salvation, Iceage’s songwriting embraces conventional structures more conspicuously than it has in the past. The dirge-like drone that opens the record gives way to a wall of reverb that sounds fuller and brighter than anything they’ve committed to tape, signalling a clarity of clouds breaking. The Lisboa Gospel Collective, who joined the band for two tracks on the final day in the studio, provide a new scale to Rønnenfelt’s incantations.
As with all Iceage’s previous albums, Rønnenfelt stowed away for a set period of weeks and wrote the lyrics for Seek Shelter in one shot. Here, his lyrics reach grand heights despite its classic opacity — he sings of taking shelter, of tranquil affections that threaten to combust, and of a limp-wristed god with a cavalcade of devotees in search of relief. His expressionist imagery consistently hinges on the divine, a natural result of his desire to take a kernel of ordinary emotion and, as he explains, “blow it up like a balloon.”
On the slow-grooving new single, “Vendetta,” an electronic beat and blues signatures break through to the front. Rønnenfelt comments, “Crime is the undercurrent that runs through everything. If you don’t see it, you’re not looking. In its invincible politics, it is the glue that binds it all together. ‘Vendetta’ is an impartial dance along the illicit lines of infraction.”
The accompanying video features the band, as well as actor Zlatko Burić. Director Jonas Bang explains, “We wanted it to be less 1:1 story and more short format collage-ish – like if you flick through a chapter in a book reading a bit here and there.”
While recording, rain dripped through cracks in the ceiling of Namouche, the dilapidated wood-paneled vintage studio in Lisbon where Iceage set up for 12 days. The band had to arrange their equipment around puddles. Pieces of cloth covered slowly filling buckets so the sound of raindrops wouldn’t reach the microphones. Kember arranged garden lamps for mood lighting in the high-ceiling space. It was the longest time Iceage had ever spent making an album. When the rain had stopped, Seek Shelter revealed itself as a collection of songs radiating warmth and a profound desire for salvation in a world that’s spinning further and further out of control. Even Rønnenfelt was surprised with what they were able to create together. “When we started, I think we were just lashing out, completely blindfolded with no idea as to why and how we were doing anything. For Seek Shelter, we had a definite vision of how we wanted the album to be carved out, yet still the end result came as a surprise in terms of where we sonically were able to push our boundaries.” He’s speaking of the new record and also of their entire existence as a band, a travelogue that has catapulted these four friends far past the horizons of punk.