- One might expect Square One, by Prins Thomas and Bjørn Torske, to contain particular ingredients—principally, the elaborate space disco pioneered by Torske and refined by Thomas and peers like Lindstrøm and Todd Terje. The album has its share of eccentric, kosmische-kissed tunes, but the emphasis is on tone and groove over songcraft and ornamentation. Square One's tracks are sparsely arranged, with a handful of instruments and bare melodies on most. That's likely down to the way the album came together, emerging from a studio jam session, as Torske put it, "recorded by pure fancy."
The resulting songs fall into two categories—those illuminated, however obliquely, by a mirror ball's refracted light, and those with a more sinister glow. "On U"'s simple kick-and-snare pattern and purring low-end, assisted by plucked bass guitar and roller-rink organs, belong in the former camp. "Kappe Tre," with its lonesome keys and rat-a-tat rhythm, conveys a windswept vista. The loping "K16 Del 1" conjures up warmer climes via an insistent cuica and, in the distance, swirling tuned percussion, occasionally overshadowed by a thrumming spectral wail.
Square One can be shadowy. Take "Arthur"—with its rumbling kick, haunted-house organ and sweat-on-the-congas percussion, it's a cousin to Torske's "Fuglekongen." The doomy dub of "Steintongt" is a few shades darker than most anything that Torske or Thomas have produced to date.
Despite the album's rich atmospheres, the tracks seem more like sketches than fully realised tracks. A little less effects-led ebb and flow (and a touch more structure) might have made Square One more vibrant. The album's absorbing collection of mood pieces, though, are rewarding and evocative enough to make it worth your while.
01. On U
03. 12 Volt
04. Arthur's Return
05. K16 Del 1
07. Kappe Tre
08. K16 Del 2