The world's finest purveyor of space disco stretches his genre to its lengthiest incarnation yet on his debut proper.
Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, perhaps the world's most forthright purveyor of what's come to be called the space disco style of dance music, is quite happy to continue traipsing around the sonic landscape he essentially created back in the early 2000s. Basically making the same genre of music today, he's pushing himself in different ways. He's asking not "how can I mine this idea for maximum immediate impact?", but "how far can I push this idea?" Technically his solo debut -- 2006's It's a Feedelity Affair collected previously released 12-inches -- Where You Go I Go Too consists of just three tracks, which ambitiously clock in at 28:58, 10:10 and 15:58 respectively. So, who's listening to this stretched-out groove?
Apart from occasional up-kicks, it's not dancefloor music, that's for sure. Lindstrøm's atmospherics are too dreamy, the tempo too variable, to work on a conventional floor. The Guggenheim First Fridays, perhaps. And with these pieces nearing classical suite-length, listening all the way through becomes a sort of dreamy, associative experience. It would be difficult for any instrumental artist to hold attention for this long, and, in fact, in a few places on the record, your attention naturally drifts away. Still, these are momentary lapses, and you half suspect they're engineered into the music on purpose. Elsewhere, Lindstrøm's craft is forthright, even tongue-in-cheek: the one-tone-up chord changes in the middle section of the title track for example.
Even without looking at the track length, you know "Where You Go I Go Too" is going to be a long haul. Only after about four minutes do things begin to reach a minimal chug in one long introductory crescendo of layered synths and buzzy space noises that feels like an introduction. Lindstrøm is obviously more interested in atmosphere than artists like the Field, who take the basic elements of 4/4 techno and intellectualise it with various musical referents. The Norwegian producer has always been more relaxed -- it's part of what gives his music a Balearic vibe -- though his top-heavy synth sound does occasionally recall artists like 2007 standout Gui Boratto.
Essentially, Lindstrøm is making optimistic, even wide-eyed, electronica. And after years of wading through over-technical, unemotional minimal techno, that's refreshing. Studio recently highlighted the pop possibilities of the genre on Yearbook 2. Lindstrøm is never going to be that mainstream, but his heart's in a similar upbeat place. Echoes of fellow Scandinavians Eleanoora Rosenholm wash around the opening of "The Long Way Home", a confluent and sophisticated disco-pop aesthetic. But, yeah, Lindstrøm is probably smarter in the end. The guitar lick that emerges continually feels like it's about to trip itself up, its syncopated rhythm clashing with the forward-rushing beat. That's only resolved after seven minutes! To sustain the track's motion and interest, even after multiple listens, remains an impressive feat.
Underneath the optimistic veil of synths, though, it turns out Lindstrøm's got a cheeky, irreverent sense of humor. The opening of "Grand Ideas" seems to out-Justice Justice, only to ricochet back to the '80s (echoing percussion, handclaps) as if to purposefully highlight the cheapness of the effect. The thing glints with light from every angle. You wonder how it will hold up in a year, though.
In general, these undertones are never as important as the shiny atmospheric bliss Lindstrøm's purveying. That populist streak may not always match Lindstrøm's ambitious structures, but then, you don't really worry much about this while you're floating away to Where You Go I Go Too