Album of the week: Bjørn Torske & Prins Thomas – Square One

Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas go back to basics on Square One with live drums and liquid bass-lines setting the tone for lethargic slow pulses and warm lush keys languishing in their own warmth. Based on the title, the two Norwegian electronic music pioneers, used this project to tap into something primal in themselves and music. The live drums and the played bass guitar are repetitive and mantric and combined with the psychedelic miasma of electronic noises gathering wistfully around the arrangement and untangled from any proposed form, Square One calls to mind Tangerine Dream, NEU!, and even a little of Kraftwerk, circa Autobahn, where the cataclysm for experimental electronic music took root. 

Neither Bjørn Torske or Prins Thomas are strangers to this field and in Square One they take us to a journey to the big bang of this music. The closest we ever get to a four on the floor is the lonesome thump of a Djembe drum on “k19 del 1” or the boxy kick of “Kappe Tre”, and in this collaboration Bjørn and Thomas shrug all responsibilities to the dance floor in favour of a head-bobbing catharsis. The mood goes from relaxed and pensive to quirky and playful through the course of the album, and although they’re effectively paying homage to the roots of experimental electronic music, they hardly disappear into mindless self-indulgence. There’s an expert balance between the accessible and the a deeper listening experience on Square One and an album you’d constantly want playing in the background. 

It’s passive where it needs to be, but if you allow it an expansive world awaits beyond the repetitive drones and the meandering percussion. Square One isn’t a mere jaunt into revisionist nostalgia, but rather a severe and considered interpretation of a past music for a new audience and as it arrives through two of the world’s most exciting dance floor manipulators, it makes quite a statement on the current state of electronic music. 

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