Lindstrom & Prins Thomas: II

II is an epic space jam that seems to tweak celestial ephemera in real time.

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas


Label: Eskimo
UK Release Date: Import
US Release Date: 2009-05-26
Artist website

Music fans in the Digital Age are a restless bunch. They want their new music the day before the musicians step into the studio. The persistent, irascible competition to be current, which could surely be defined as a principle qualification for hipsterdom, cripples musicians and exhausts record labels looking for solutions. As a likely response to this, Eskimo recordings sent out promotional discs for superstar Norwegian producers Lindstrom & Prins Thomas’s long-awaited follow-up to its eponymous debut (creatively titled II) with the album’s eight songs dispersed somewhat arbitrarily throughout the 99 tracks allowed on an optical compact disc.

Part of this reviewer wishes this gimmick was extended for the worldwide release rather than just for advance copies. The 99 tracks can be said to serve a couple of purposes secondary to preventing leakage and piracy. First, the formatting encourages the album’s potential audience to listen to the disc all the way through from start to finish, which is clearly the way II’s authors intended. After all, who would want to scan through 42 tracks just to get to song three? In addition, by breaking up songs into 20-second to one-minute-and–a-half fragments, the exploratory and progressive nature of these works becomes all too apparent.

This likely will be the most-divisive aspect of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas’s latest. II is a fluid corpus, migratory maximalism with the attention span of a kid in a candy store. For the most part, the sounds are likewise sweet. Gluco-cosmic sci-fi synth cooks the mix and melts it in your hands, but don’t call the Technicolor fantasia a disco affair. The multi-tiered syncopations are akin to noodling, and the lifts and drives feel less compositional than, say, jammy. The two men from Norway cut loose for about 73 minutes on II, which can be off-putting for those seeking a dance record or even for those who craved the more traditional structures found on the self-titled Lindstrom & Prins Thomas. The two should not be punished for exploring new energies, though even if it means that some songs lack a fulfilling climax to the anticipation generated by the constant propulsion.

As perhaps was the case before, the pivotal point of departure for Lindstrom & Prins Thomas is the 1970s. The hairy, psychedelic squiggly mess in its liner artwork speaks to a long-hairedness to be found between the notes. Its references seem to arise by way of each other, Caravan by way of Slave, Can exchanging studio tweaks with 10cc, Moroder interpolated by Gentle Giant or Pink Floyd toking it up with Lalo Schiffrin. The organic interstellar bounce of opener "Cisco" from its opening bass hits (which recall the Fraggle Rock theme, of all things) to its real guitar strums and bongo hits confirms this as a work of an outro-space groove dynasty. The glockenspiel 'n’ atmosphere of “Ska Vi Prøve NǺ?” is as much woodland as spaceland, but also feels like Yellow Magic Orchestra coming of age in the time of Juan Atkins.

Judging by its solo outputs alone, Prins Thomas seems to be the artist likely more responsible for the Balearic sounds stewed up in the multi-channel pot. Yet, these are well constrained and veer far from the border between grace and disgrace that those sounds often tiptoe. “Rett PǺ”, to take one example, is synth-funk stakeout music Jan Hammer might have composed had he both dug on Air and not abandoned his Mahavishnu Orchestra past. “For Ett Slikk Og Ingenting” is similarly an exotica goldmine, a late-night tale unto itself minus the kitsch. The magnificently dreamy piano slides with a slipperiness that’s like fingernails across a harp. The beats are rock beats and conservative Latin percussion, not throbbing four-on-the-floors. Its pursuit is the mystics of consciousness, an intimate journey that’s neither immediate nor particularly explicit.

As such, II requires a bit of patience. Patience of the sort that requires someone who can wait until an album’s release date to hear what the artists have to say. Some songs have bits that add up greater than the sum of the whole. Others get exhausted too easily and never quite ignite. When the magic does happen though, it’s so acute and ecstatic you don’t want to be anywhere else but inside the music.





'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.


Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.


Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.


Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.


Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.


British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.


Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".


In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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