PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Lindstrøm: Smalhans

Just because we North Americans have been desensitized to the ever-increasing force of bass, doesn't mean that some parts of the world aren't content to roll along with what was working just fine.


Lindstrøm

Smalhans

Label: Smalltown Supersound
US Release Date: 2012-11-06
UK Release Date: 2012-11-05
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

I am a mood listener. By that I mean that my daily listening habits will tend to reflect my emotional state at any given time. Though there's no science behind this observation, I do believe I've noticed some patterns. Take for example my tendency toward guitars, rock, folk and more organic bands during the fall and winter seasons and an almost exclusive focus on various brands of electronic and techno music during the summer months. I'd like to tell you there is some grand plan or reason for this but I think it's a lot more simple and primal than that. l believe it's because many of the guitar bands that get frequent play in my collection have a very warm sound. On the flip-side I associate techno and electronic music with a cool breeze, windows down, and tall cold drinks on a patio.

As with any rule, however, there's got to be exceptions and one jumps to mind almost immediately -- "Where You Go I Go Too". The 29 minute trance track by Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm was first presented to me one January morning in 2009. I played it to death, very privately. I feel about Lindstrøm the way I might feel about huge fuzzy slippers -- were I to admit to owning any -- which I won't. Much like those hypothetical slippers, it's the sort of thing that you might not be inclined to have on when company comes over. But you'll indulge later.

Lindstrøm's sound in a North American context evokes images of '70s exploitation films, or low-budget modern sci-fi. It's not coincidence that it's commonly referred to as "space disco" - a label which I'll go on record as saying is a little short-sighted. Though Wikipedia has an entry on it, I'm not willing to acknowledge it as a real genre (it still needs citations). At best, it was a fad. I'd be willing to bet that if you walked up to anyone within Hans-Peter's local scene and asked what kind of music he made they'd probably say "dance music", "disco" or perhaps just "electronic". There's nothing that appears to me to be overtly "spacey" about his music -- at least not in a deliberate sense. I don't believe he's setting out to create that sound. Just because we North Americans have been desensitized to the ever-increasing force of bass, doesn't mean that some parts of the world aren't content to roll along with what was working just fine. That doesn't make them all throw-backs.

The disco element comes across almost immediately on Smalhans, the new six track studio LP. The first few bars of "Rà-àkõ-st" are built completely by the book -- flat bass and snare march along propelled by some light electro hi-hat. For a moment we can all agree that this is timeless booty-shaking music. From sea to sea, we embrace in an international electronic music love fest but then the synths come in and we are just as easily divided. This is the "love it or hate it" moment but it's also the signature sound of Hans-Peter Lindstrøm. In this moment we North Americans hear irony. If there's a guy next to you who's from Toronto or New York they will laugh through proclamations of "This is awesome!" but it'll be meant ironically, as in I'm-hip-to-this-ancient-sound. They'll make jokes about lining their minivans with shag carpets or making love in "The Grotto" while they're busting out the old chestnut John Travolta dance moves. But set me apart from them -- please -- because having heard "Where You Go I Go Too" I have been well prepared for what Hans-Peter has in store. Every track is a progression into more of those pleasing disco sounds. His tracks never sit still long enough to be made fun of. Before you know it the irony has given way to an authentic enjoyment and the mock Travolta moves are suddenly showing signs of real enthusiasm.

Ęg-gęd-ōsis absolutely busts loose with a straight-forward nu-disco sound that makes you forget the need for any depth. Vōs-sākō-rv follows equally as energetically with a simple acid bassline and enough building synth layers to keep any electronic music appreciator in their headphones for the duration of the brief record.

Fāār-i-kāāl and Vā-flę-r both go to that more emotional space -- the one I described earlier as "warm". I recognize now that it's because the synths are climbing through every verse and then giving way to easy drops which are refreshingly free of typical North American techno tropes like the snare build-up through the break or the sweeping rush of air. The tension here never gets too high so there's no need to break it down with a sledgehammer.

This record has elements of disco, sincere emotion, lush synth atmospheres, and nods along from beginning to end without stopping for a breath. North Americans, if you can get by the instruments of choice and shed your pop-cultural and historical references long enough to forgive the undeniably cheesy synth lines you may just find yourself appreciating this record for what I believe it was intended to be -- upbeat, easy-listening dance music. Everyone else, just put on your favourite slippers, queue this up and indulge yourself.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.