Norwegian producer Bjorn Torske has been around for a while, contributing to classic rave and house anthems (Algeria’s “Danger”, Volcano’s “Let Your Body Be Free”), helming Idjut Boys-style neo-disco singles for SVEN, and even putting out a damn fine Reinforced jungle EP with Open Skies. His versatility may in fact be the major factor preventing him from name recognition, but his latest album Kokning finds him about as unconcerned about this as he has been for the past 20 years.
There’s a lawnchair psychedelia feel to Kokning. At times it’s so breezy that it almost goes unnoticed. On tracks like the opener “Bryggesjau”, there’s a light-hearted post-hippie sensibility that recalls Ash Ra Tempel’s Starring Rosi a bit, but there’s little sense of accomplishment beyond a semi-enjoyable bounce. While the track phases in all directions, the loops are incredibly repetitive. Similarly, the tribal rhythm of “Langt Fra Afrika” is promising, but fails to ignite any flames after a succession of the same sounds. Much nicer is “Gullfjellet”, which features pretty, staccato notes, arpeggios, and sensual plucking aimless enough in trajectory for this kind of endless iteration to be inviting. “Bergensere”, “Nitten Nitti”, and “Slitte Sko” are slower, more diminutive, and less club-driven updates on the disco formula. As such, their builds and escalations are more suited for at-home grooving than the high tension of parties. “Nitten Nitti”, for example, has a kind of John Barry-esque grace and explores a spacey terrain without abandoning the album’s overall casual pace. “Versjon Wolfenstein” is the only dub-inflected piece here and its fractional slivers of Basic Channel compete oddly with grindhouse chainsaw FX.
While there are a few non-stunners, the only real disappointment on Kokning is the 12-minute closer “Furu”. Its momentum only gains ground in the 8th minute as rainbow synth showers adorned as harps flutter in the mix.