Azure Blue returns with his third album “Beneath The Hill I Smell The Sea”, the final part of a trilogy that began in 2011 with the album “Rule Of Thirds”. Azure Blue is Stockholm’s Tobias Isaksson (Laurel Music, Irene). Beneath The Hill I Smell The Sea is the final chapter of an ambitious trilogy, emerging from the sombre and introspective earlier chapters of the trilogy to embrace a host of guest vocalists for this finale. In total, seven vocalists join Azure Blue on this record, including Amanda Mair, César Vidal (Caesars) and Per Magnusson (Sportsman). This time around, Azure Blue produced the album himself over seven months in his Stockholm studio. It has a cleaner sound; it is significantly crisper and more modern than the records that precede it, incorporating textural nuances of both classic hip-hop and dance music in to the lush, analogue escapism that links all three records.
With his debut album in 2012, Azure Blue won Sweden’s prestigious Manifestigalan Best Pop Album (previous winners include The Knife, Jens Lekman and El Perro Del Mar), and has received international recognition and acclaim from Interview Magazine, The Fader, The Line Of Best Fit, Allmusic, PopMatters, The Big Takeover, Blurt, Prefix Magazine, under the radar, El Pais, No Todo, Magic RPM, etc.
2013's sophomore album, Beyond The Dreams There's Infinite Doubt, received acclaim from The Line Of Best Fit "the record continues through a lustrous sea of texture and emotion that’s delivered with incredible panache", AllMusic "a synthy, poppy delight" and PopMatters “a melange of ’80s synthpop textures and ’90s shoegaze vocals mixed with that wall of sound, perfected by pop music back in the ’60s.”
When not performing as Azure Blue, Tobias is half of the duo Personal Trainers alongside Peter Moren [Peter, Bjorn and John]. Tobias has previously written and produced songs with Patrik Berger, Silvana Imam and Asha Ali and has made a number of popular remixes for, amongst others including Jonathan Johansson, Futurecop!, Yast, Big Fox and Karl X Johan.
As a DJ he’s received acclaim from Paris Silence and Berlin Music Week, and regularly appears behind the decks at Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo’s flourishing DJ scene.
"Nostalgia fuelled pop harking back to the heyday of Factory Records, Isaksson's material is deeply romantic with a deft production slight of hand that can single-handedly break your heart and indeed heal it in one fell swoop." The Line Of Best Fit (UK) "The best electro-pop record in recent memory." Blurt Magazine (USA) “His touch is tender and light, and the album’s best songs always swing to the sky, riding up on decades of learning from drum machines and tangled relationships” The Fader (USA)
Releases Fika042: Azure Blue - Beneath The Hill I Smell The Sea [12" LP]
Press Kit [wpdm_file id=9]
Press for Beneath The Hill I Smell The Sea "Fusing sticky beats, sultry strings and smooth '80s guitars - sometimes a bit of soaring French horn too - Isaksson creates a complex pop world that's all too easy to find yourself lost it" The Line Of Best Fit "the entire album is made up of songs that have softly sticky hooks, real emotions, and melodies that are both soothing and a little heart-wrenching at times. Again, very Swedish. Isaksson has been at the pop thing for a long time, and records like this show he's working at the top of his game. Anyone looking for sophisticated pop with plenty of thawed-out hearts will discover that Beneath the Hill I Smell the Sea is a fine choice." All Music "I’m at a school dance. The scent from the smoke machine blends oddly with the scent from my cheap perfume that smells like an old lady's. My eyes are stuck on the hands of the boy I like, which are carefully resting on another girl's bottocks. That undefied feeling of the first time you feel vibrations of music appears seconds after, when the boy choses to dance with me instead. I get that very same feeling while listening to "Reflections of light"." Noisey [Music By Vice] "Nineties-era twee is replaced with the idealized futurism of the eighties and there are plenty of kick-drums and AOR sounds to coat Azure Blue’s coaxing sound. While Azure Blue may never come anywhere near the words “dancefloor anthem”, Tobias has worked hard to form the beautiful dream that is his third record." At Cost Mag "Azure Blue might just have released one of Scandinavias most interesting LPs at the moment. 80s guitars, shynts, sticky beats and catchy lyrics." This Is Scandinavia "Opening track, 'A Town Like Alice', is cut from the same cloth as much of New York band My Favourite’s early material, while the upbeat 'Every Ending Story' has more than a passing resemblance to New Order at their poppiest. Throughout there are hints of forgotten 90’s indie band They Go Boom and more than a subtle nod to Sarah Records, but one of the highlights is the dreamy, dizzying loveliness about missing a loved one that is the classic sounding 'Baby You’re a Star' which would be a clear standout on even the best Clientele album. " Penny Black Music "Tragedy & Changes,” sounds like a straight-from-the-eighties hit, complete with super faded and breathy vocals plus never ending drum machine beats that patter through the song. What I’m really digging though, is the very end of the song when some electric guitar sneaks its way into the electro pop mix and carries you out." Austin Town Hall "Azure Blue magically evokes the emotive side of downtempo 80s electro pop on third album Beneath The Hill I Smell The Sea" Deadly Music "Beneath the Hill... has a pure 80s sound, augmented in some places by a dance beat and overlaid with vocals delivered in a Scandinavian whisper. ‘A Town Like Alice’ has inherited the synth and drum machine patterns that once belonged to Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’ as well as the sense of longing and heartache in the lyrics. Elsewhere, there are hints of New Order and Prefab Sprout while ‘Tragedy and Changes’ has a touch of modern disco to go with the electronic rhythms." SoundsXP "This album gives us the same feeling as when we’re laying in the grass looking at the sky (we do that a lot) or dancing under the stars (we do that too sometimes). It’s dreamy." Nordic By Nature "Azure Blue's new album should be on everyone's summer playlist. Be sure to roll the windows down, open your mind, and follow the sound waves" Fearless Radio "A master of hazy, sentimental indie electro pop, Azure Blue is simultaneously aloof and powerfully emotive" Towleroad "has all the trademarks of an Azure Blue song; fading guitars, coaxing vocals and a futurist take on album-oriented rock as envisioned from the 1980s" Swede & Sour "returns to the scene indie pop album with a new light; colorful and sad that is surrounded by sounds ranging from 80s new wave to new romantic" Music Letter "produced in his Stockholm over a seven month period, features several guest vocalists, including Amanda Mair, César Vidal (Caesars) and Per Magnusson (Sportsman)" Vinyl Utopia Nöjesguiden [5/6] Arbetarbladet [3/5] City Malmö [3/5] Folkbladet [3/5] Hallands Nyheter [3/5] Hallandsposten [3/5] Helsingborgs Dagblad [3/5] Kristianstadsbladet [3/5] Nerikes Allehanda [3/5] Västerviks Tidningen [3/5] Ystads Allehanda [3/5] Gaffa [3/6]
Press for Beyond The Dreams There's Infinite Doubt
"As the wistful opener ‘Time Is On Our Side’ bursts into the tear inducing epic ‘The Road I Know’, the pace of the record continues through a lustrous sea of texture and emotion that’s delivered with incredible panache." The Line Of Best Fit "an altogether darker affair than Isaksson’s debut, but retains the melodic fortitude, the hypnotic hooks and reverb-laden delicacy that we’ve come to love from the Swedish artist." Ja Ja Ja Music "his music has taken a more solemn turn, full of whispery electronic odes to love and the heartache that follows. His second album under the moniker, Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt, continues the melancholic, New Order-for-dreamers vibe; Isaksson weaves together a synth- and drum-machine-fueled, slow-motion disco" Interview Magazine "Rarely does synth-pop meet with indiepop to such stunning effect. The man's pulled off the trick again; these are classics." SoundsXP "Majestically warm and simultaneously aloof like 'Behaviour' by Pet Shop Boys, this is powerfully emotive indie electro pop." Deadly Music "pretty and broodingly emotional synthpop stuff with a real authentic ‘80s sound to it" Norman Records 8/10 "wonderfully crafted album" See Sound "a melange of '80s synthpop textures and '90s shoegaze vocals mixed with that wall of sound, perfected by pop music back in the '60s." Pop Matters "a synthy, poppy delight" All Music "dreamy trance of synthesizers and electronic beats" Austin Town Hall "lovely synth-pop gems that dazzle like something from Factory Records' salad days" Linear Tracking Lives "an enchanting listen start to finish" Sound Of Confusion "at the end of the day, the success of synth pop comes down to the melodies, and on that score Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt excels from start to finish. There is a nostalgia-inducing similarity to the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, although in Isaksson's hands the result feels more atmospheric and romantic." When You Motor Away "breathlessly mesmerising dreamscape with entrancing vocals, gorgeous synths and gently rousing electronica" Chart Shaker "Beyond The Dreams There’s Infinite Doubt catches the producer and songwriter heading into dreamier territory than his first outing" Prefix Mag Gaffa [Swedish] 4/6 Festivalrkyten [Swedish] 7/10 GetHitMusiken [Swedish] 9.3/10 PSL SVT [Swedish]