- For better or worse, Skatebård's VSTs are showing. Unlike, say, Autechre, guys who are rumored to spend days futzing with the gating on a single drum hit, what good ideas the Bård has are built from out-of-the-box parts. And while, yes, great novels are all written with common vocabulary, boundary pushing in literature is defined by making the building blocks of language work in new ways. The same goes for electronic music: Sonic innovation in techno is (often) defined by bending the hardware to the artist's vision, not the other way around.
That said, a track doesn't have to put pressure on the envelope's edge in order to be worthwhile, and it is in this adept MOR realm that Cosmos succeeds. Like Osborne, Aasen Lødemel's work here takes a conventional sound and gets all conventional up in it. There are broad-and-simple 808 thumps and claps, searching synth phrases and bright bass stabs; each would sound as nearly as at home in 1998 or 1988 as they do in the waning days of 2008.
Opener "Vuelo" is an eight minute shiny, retro-cinematic cut that arrives like a visit from a college buddy who ends up outstaying his welcome. The other highlight, "Early Morning" is equally long and initially engaging, but doesn't have enough working parts to merit its length. Meanwhile, "Gamle Furutraer" might be trying to get us out on the floor, but Lødemel is playing a few BPM short of a full deck. There's often something interesting about dance music that feels like it should be fast but isn't, but again, this track just doesn't go anywhere particularly surprising.
Cosmos seems egregiously misnamed: there's nothing mysterious or vast about it, and if anything, it's a competent but uninspired genre-flexing exercise. Every track on the album obediently trots out the techniques—dropping the beat out here, speeding into a crescendo there—but it all feels mailed in. Skatebård's musical enterprise doesn't explore any strange new worlds, and the repeat listenability suffers for it. This record boldly goes where many have gone before—unused in the back of the crate.
03. Inspirational Weekend
04. June Nights South Of Siena
05. React 2 Rhythm
07. Skatebard Loves You
08. Early Morning
09. Gamle Furutraer
11. Atari St News Christmas Meeting 1990