With his first album under the Prins Thomas moniker, after innumerable remixes and a handful of 12-inches, Thomas Moen Hermansen weaves between influences in a way that truly makes the genre tags his work has previously been tethered to (cosmic/space disco) seem forced, convenient, and a little bit silly. Prins Thomas is a record that favors sounds and arrangements that seem more related to 1970s German Kosmische and “Krautrock” -- favoring long builds and hypnotic textures and rhythms that take listeners on a journey -- than any recent trends in dance music. And while he may be asking a lot in confronting listeners with seven long, mostly instrumental pieces, the rewards of entering into the weird, stirring worlds that he creates are worth the price of admission -- namely, letting oneself be overcome.
Thomas played most of this record himself: the delayed, dubby guitar lines, the head-nodding bass lines, the lean but propulsive percussion -- and, of course, the trippy, sometimes atmospheric synthesizers. He gets a little help from his fellow Norwegian disco royalty -- both Todd Terje (trumpet on “Sauerkraut”) and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm (keyboards on “Wendy Not Walter” and clavinet on “Sauerkraut”) make appearances -- but the record is largely marked by Thomas’s own musicality and penchant for carving out hulking, psychedelic sound spaces.
Opener, “Ørkenvandring," stretches out over a Neu-like, metronomic beat, making way for hazy guitars to move from sunburned Balearic vibes into passages of unsettling, engaging paranoia. “Slangemusikk” (Snake Music) circles around on itself, a synth-line repeating endlessly as things get more and more out there, walls of insectoid sound rising on all sides before the track finally resolves into a moody, mellow, psych-rock coda. The most dance-floor friendly cut, “Wendy Not Walter," trades in cosmic disco-house vibes, building to massive waves of sound and subliminal, unraveling melodies.
While the diversity of approaches could have resulted in a messy hodge-podge of eight-minute-long tracks, Prins Thomas holds things together admirably. He knows sound, knows his instruments, and knows how to use his influences as a runway that launches him into the kind of musical territory that he finds fascinating. And while this record may not be one that I listen to end to end, over and over, there is little doubt that it is the perfect soundtrack to a serendipitous, still-to-come, drive into the unknown.
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