- Robyn and Mr. Tophat have apparently known each other for almost a decade. Maybe this explains the loose chemistry on their collaborative EP, Trust Me. Tophat's long, loopy tracks, often made with his Karlovak buddy Art Alfie, use disco grooves as a base from which to launch explorations of the cosmos. This three-tracker, bolstered by contributions from original Abba drummer Per Lindvall and his bassist brother David, takes that concept further. Robyn isn't a strong presence—her vocal parts, which flash across the mix like mirages, sound off-the-cuff (sample lyric: "I don't know / What you've been told / Blue is red / And red is blue"). But she's not meant to be the star: that honour goes to the mixing desk. In the style of Arthur Russell, Tophat uses studio trickery to weave contrasting material into dreamlike narratives. Programmed drums morph fluidly into live ones, while samples and voices circle each other like planets in unpredictable orbit.
"Trust Me" is the wildest of the bunch. This is partly because the suspense in its foundational disco loop—a swell of strings and a three-note bassline—periodically breaks onto a chorus section, in which the strings ripple seductively across the stereo field. Partly because of the weird worlds it knits together, like the squeaky drum machine that fades in before the four-minute mark, accompanied by yelps from Robyn. And partly for the way it all eventually comes unstuck, first with a big drum solo and then with the arrival of crowd noise. Robyn's extemporisations detach from the bassline and lose their focus, as if somebody left the mic on while she was warming up.
The rest of the EP uses these techniques to more conventional ends. On "Right Time," Robyn picks her way through a barrage of hand drums and shakers. Flickers of piano and cloudlike synths drift in and out of view, but nothing quite stands out. "Disco Davato" has a clearer purpose. It starts with a perky groove and builds from there, its string and guitar loops growing into a blissful shoegaze whirl. If you listen hard, you might hear Robyn surface somewhere after the five-minute mark. She's more audible later on, but her melodies are fragmented, quickly whisked away in a disco swirl that seems like it might go on forever.
A1 Trust Me
A2 Right Time
B1 Disco Davato