- So strong must the Norwegian imagination be to be holed up during the dead of winter, conjuring vistas surrounded by shimmering sea and sweltering jungle climes. It's a remarkable vision of palm trees and vitamin D that courses through the tracks of artists like Todd Terje and Skatebård. As Telephones, Bergen's Henning Severud follows that tradition. The Ocean Called was a deep house-inspired EP that doubled as a late night luau in 2014, but it was followed by years of silence save for remixes for José Padilla and Vangelis Katsoulis.
As it turns out, Severud ditched the singles to focus on an album: Vibe Telemetry is a charming debut that finds him moving from the ocean to the jungle (check the dense foliage of the cover). The record follows Running Back's other full-length from this year, Leon Vynehall's Rojus, and like that album, it hunts for a dance floor paradise where genre distinctions don't quite stick. The twinkling ambience of "147 Stars" is a peaceful opening that leads into the next track's club-kick. A snapping hi-hat and tumble of snare give "Sierra" momentum, as a crackling loop of orchestral strings pinwheel in the background. Severud adds classic piano-house chords and giddy gurgles of synth as the track unfurls, sending it to a more rarefied space. Is it disco, house, Italo? Nothing seems to pin it down.
Squishy, lush and tingling, "Tripping Beauty" is a highlight, its percolating rhythms reminiscent of Steve Reich's shimmering compositions (or better yet, HNNY's take on them). "Sea, Hex & Moon" scans as a playful nod to Serge Gainsbourg's disco decadanse hit but with a bigger kick and the twittering of birds and bugs. On "Entropik†lia," wind chimes toll alongside Orb-like blips, before the track slides into a more tribal drum pattern and a 4/4 makes all the disparate sounds cohere.
As much as there is to admire about Vibe Telemetry, few of its melodies linger in the mind. There's plenty of sparkle and even more bird sounds to be gleaned from "Datajungel," but it's difficult to recall any of the details after it fades away. "Mezcal Eclipse" sounds like a '91 house track mistakenly played at 45 RPM, too fast to have any lasting effect. Severud's ability to pull together disparate strands of house, techno, disco and Balearic is admirable. Lush as it can be, however, the music is like a tropical holiday: lovely at the time but hard to recall when you're back at work.
01. 147 Stars
03. Tripping Beauty
05. Highs & Bungalows
06. Sea, Hex & Moon
07. Mezcal Eclipse
10. Untitled (The Party)
11. Flow System