In aviation lingo, the acronym “F.O.D.” stands for foreign object debris. This can refer to anything from an errant screw on the runway to an unlucky seagull, so long as it can get sucked into an engine and cause damage. In fairness, this isn’t the meaning Copenhagen-based musician and producer Varnrable, a.k.a. Camilla Myhre, references in her song of the same name, but it almost could be, and not just because the album is titled Air Born.
Across 30 minutes Varnrable’s full-length debut rattles, shakes, and shudders—its sonic engines choked and distorted by strange sounds and disorienting effects. Air Born continually veers off course, shambling across a liminal space between something and nothing. It’s less synth-pop and more synth-anti-pop, shot through with bleak darktronica and banged into shape on a drum pad.
It’s compelling stuff. Album opener “Start of Nothing”—a title open to either a cheeky or a nihilistic interpretation—is closer to a sound collage than a song, peppered with firecrackers and distant whoops. As the name implies, “DripDrop” is waterlogged with the sound of a leaky faucet. Initial single “Club Trauma” and “Interlude,” which acts as its intro, brim with wobbling synths that come dislodged every time she kickstarts the bass drum. Myhre doesn’t make it to the club until the penultimate track, weaving a hard techno thud through a rhythm so tinny it sounds as though she’s banging it into garbage can lids. Most of the record sounds best-suited for nights in those ramshackle graffiti-covered concrete shelters that somehow exist in every city, where disaffected youth the world over trespass into and congregate to share grievances and bottom shelf vodka. One such locale provides the setting for the “Club Trauma” video.
Air Born is certainly disaffected, and youthful. There’s plenty taken from current internet parlance, particularly as it relates to mental health: “Go ahead and gaslight me” or “Don’t fuck with my trauma/ I don’t want any drama.” Despite her moniker, which is so deliberately and phonetically close to “vulnerable” that Google Docs corrects it automatically, Myhre maintains an icy distance. “The biggest pain is when you misunderstand,” she repeats on “Miss Understood,” although she never specifies what is misunderstood, before saying, “We connect all the things that are really not that deep.” In the isolated landscapes of Air Born, Myhre gives us little choice but to take her at her word.