- Earlier this year, one of electronic music's most dependably immersive producers was floundering. After almost ten years spent crafting some of dance music's most luxuriously Moroder-indebted epics, including 2005's ubiquitous "I Feel Space," Hans-Peter Lindstrøm's second album proper, February's Six Cups of Rebel, found the Norwegian beardo overdoing his already heady creations with barrages of noise and sonic detailing into a kind of woozy prog-disco pastiche. An overthought, undercooked mess of zany maximalism, Six Cups of Rebel felt like the work of a man struggling to re-find his own groove in the studio—perhaps the pressure of following the gorgeous autobahn detailing of 2008's Where You Go I Go Too—and trying to stuff that lack with, well, everything at hand.
And perhaps that was precisely the problem. In an effort to overcome what many viewed as a reflection of writer's block, Lindstrøm spent only a month creating his second album of the year, Smalhans. With longtime friend Todd Terje on board for mixing duties, and apparently little analogue fills here and there, Lindstrøm's vision sounds newly clarified and, if not refreshed, at least renewed in its joyous vigor. In fact, at just six tracks and 35 minutes, Smalhans harkens back to Lindstrøm's mid-'00s heyday, a hyper-melodic, often transfixing creation forged of swift footed arpeggiations and some of the man's most dance floor-bound pacing in years. All six tracks are named after traditional Norwegian dishes—the album title meaning "scarcity," an allusion to the simplicity of those very meals.
It makes sense—that bountiful simplicity—given how straight-forward and immediately nourishing the album is for its short runtime. "Vos-sako-rv" is like Chariots of Fire in miniature, this tightly wound little epic built around several sugary ascending synth melodies, and "Lamm-el-aar," with its smudgy synth gurgles and more interlocked arpeggios, reaches back to the Lindstrøm of "Another Station." "Eg-ged-Osis" has a little bit more hip in its sensuous swagger, a late night stormer of sorts that really burns, while "Faar-i-kaal" takes cues from Terje's sunblind daytours of the last couple of years.
In fact, arguably the only criticism to be levied against Smalhans is just how much it, well, sounds like a Lindstrøm album. There's the sense that he could almost have sleepwalked through this full-length with one eye monitoring the eg-ged-osis and the other fixed on Logic. That's alright; Lindstrøm on auto-pilot still means he's, you know, piloting you somewhere again. There are no new tricks at hand here, no experimental forays into the goonier psych-prog ends of the space disco genre. And you know what? Thank fuck for that.
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