Smerz Unveil Debut Album via XL Recordings

Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt have unveiled their debut album as Smerz, having shared a teaser last year.

Believer melds sonic touchstones from the Norwegian duo’s youth, like musicals and classical music, with swirling, trance-indebted synth lines, hip-hop, and R&B. They began working on it three years ago, formalizing the boundless sonic world that started to emerge within their monthly NTS shows.

Working mostly on their computer, their main instrument, Motzfeldt and Stoltenberg began to search for “something new in well-known tropes,” playing with the tension between the computer’s ability to render a spectrum of sounds ranging from the organic to the wholly unnatural.

“There’s this hierarchy between different styles and what is expected of different genres, but we wanted to keep them all together in this flat hierarchy to show their different potentials and abilities,” Motzfeldt tells EDMjunkies.

They transplanted a classical musician’s approach to the MIDI keyboard, leaning into the plastic-sounding effects that a computer imposes on string and harp samples. “You won’t end up in the same place as a symphony, where everything sounds alive, but you’ll end up in this new place in between,” Stoltenberg says.

The pair bring Believer to life with the help of Benjamin Barron and Bror August, who respectively directed and styled the series of interconnected and accompanying videos, like the album trailer.

“Each scene is a picture in a way, but it’s alive and hopefully there’s this glimpse into a world and a bigger narrative,” Stoltenberg says. It’s a world that rides the line between reality and dreams, and one that’s steeped in the nostalgia and romanticism of Norway’s history.

Stoltenberg and Motzfeldt began releasing together in 2016, and their earlier EPs, Okey and Have fun—with shuffling, laidback basslines, footwork-indebted rhythms, and clipped snippets of field recordings—were rooted in the Copenhagen techno scene they fell into when they moved to the Danish city in 2011.

Since then, Motzfeldt has been studying music composition and Stoltenberg has been enrolled in a masters mathematics program, and the two pursuits have brought something different to their creative processes, which are demonstrated across the new record. In spite of their intellectual pursuits, the collaboration still “sidesteps analytical processes in favor of spontaneity, randomness, and intuition,” we’re told.

The announcement is accompanied by a music video for the title-track, which you can stream below.

Last year, the duo shared The favourite / Rap interlude, comprising two album tracks.

Tracklisting

01. Gitarriff
02. Max
03. Believer
04. Versace strings
05. Rain
06. 4 temaer
07. Hester
08. Flashing
09. The favourite
10. Rap interlude
11. Sonette
12. Glassbord
13. Grand piano
14. Missy
15. I don’t talk about that much
16. Hva hvis

Believer LP is scheduled for February 26 release on XL Recordings. Meanwhile, you can stream the title-track below and pre-order here.

Album artwork by Benjamin Barron and Bror August.

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