- The Norwegian artist pushes further past his formative space disco sound.
- Once at the fore of Norway's space disco sound when it emerged in the mid-'00s, Prins Thomas has spent the years since embarking on deep explorations of complementary sounds. There were the krautrock-indebted tracks of his 2010 solo debut, and the heady ambient explorations of 2016's Principe Del Norte. His work with others was similarly intrepid, be it his 2017 album with Bjørn Torske, which had a leftfield, post-punk edge, or last year's collaboration with Bugge Wesseltoft, which folded in jazz and downtempo grooves. No matter the project, Thomas has always found fresh ways to express himself.
Ambitions, Thomas's sixth solo album, is more casual than the title suggests. The tracks were built from sketches Thomas made on the fly, either on a laptop or handheld recorder. The LP finds him slyly wandering back towards his classic sound while also adding an airiness missing from previous albums. "XSB" has Thomas's most lithe and funk-friendly bassline to date. It's a perfect foundation for a gossamer Balearic melody, the effect comparable to a white silk scarf blown off a seaside balcony. Were that not dreamy enough, the next track features a hazy, honey-dipped vocal purring the title, "Feel The Love." It's the kind of dreamy, sticky boogie that could turn the ear of Dâm-Funk, and it's one of Thomas's breeziest productions to date.
On "Ambitions," Thomas touches on his old space disco sound. Percolating hand percussion, an atmosphere as comfy and inviting as a couch, keyboard lines that suggest earthworms and alien shortwave signals—it all gets deftly layered until you don't even realize you're adrift again in Thomas's gravity-free space. "Fra Miami Til Chicago" is the album's sleekest trip, with Thomas pairing a four-on-the-floor kick to clean kosmische peals of guitar (like something Michael Rother might dream up). As you lose yourself in the track, Thomas fades that throb out completely. Somewhere past the midway point, you find yourself instead wrapped in flickering keys and ethereal chimes, everything moving now at half-speed.
The rhythmic underpinning of "Urmannen" reveals how Thomas's touch has grown more subtle over the years. It still has the feel of a space disco track, but it's a hushed iteration of that sound. With intermittent shaker across the stereo field, hand drums and a simmering ride cymbal, he builds the track gently, the arpeggios accruing into something as delectable and airy as a soufflé. Unlike the space disco of his past, Thomas's music now hangs together not with laser bursts but with silken thread.
03. Feel The Love
05. Fra Miami Til Chicago