Dance floors stand empty; a silent void crushing the ghostly reverberations of a time when they were packed with licentious bodies moving to a provocative beat. Sound systems remain dormant, dust and rust coagulating around moving parts in rictus, where once upon a time their motions could ignite fires on the dance floor.
Anything resembling a scene is in hibernation and accurately so. Yet every day we’re bombarded by a caterwaul of emails, social media posts and articles proclaiming the next “big room techno banger” about to arrive on the next big techno banger label, spearheaded by the last big room techno banger DJ, desperately trying stay relevant in a scene that has taken to the woods, where their services are no longer required.
They breathe the air of other planets, their perception of reality emulsifying around the last great night, the last big room, the last DJ set, trapped in limbo like a wary Jack Nicholson trying to force a door open with an axe… yes, subtle. These uncharted territories in charted dance music where adaptation thrives and reluctance to modulate is the death knell in the form of a 909 kick. It’s time to wake up from the lysergic dream of an impossible past, and it’s in situations like these that a new music will thrive. It’s music that is in direct contact with a localised audience, a music in the form of a conversation rather than a monologue.
Music does not live in a bubble of isolation, it lives and grows within the zeitgeist of society, and in a world where the “big room” is closed; the dance floor is cluttered with tables and chairs; the international superstar DJ is landlocked and homebound; and the festival season is postponed, perhaps now is not the time for your “big room Techno banger.” You’ll have your chance again… but we need something different now; something a little more sympathetic with the situation.
Luckily this music exists too, and it’s happening right on our doorstep. It’s a short trip to liberation, a brief jaunt toward complete immersion of a unique and distinct music culture, with everything from Trance to House finding a new purpose in more uplifting spirits. This is music that soothes and condoles in unprecedented times, the stuff we recognise from the people we know. This is the cut with Filter Musikk on a “kortreist” to sanctuary.
Mikkel Rev – UTE004 (UTE.REC) 12”
Uteklubb have been busy. While they wait patiently for the pandemic to ease and get back to hosting events, the people behind the DJ collective have focussed all their efforts on the label and their music, and 2020 has been a bumper year of releases for the artists behind the label. Settling into a transcendental sonic disposition, Uteklubb have moved out from the dark recesses of Techno into the enlightened sound of Trance, IDM and Ambient music. They’ve established a new label Sinensis with Omformer consolidating those efforts around two releases while the flagship label, re-focussed their purpose on the boisterous tempos of the impromptu forest dance floor with the Groundcontrol compilation and now the latest 12” from UTE.REC founder Mikkel Rev.
Disappearing into fluffy clouds of rich dynamic textures, Rev’s melodies rise above the steadfast rhythm sections that follow the grid in a near-military precision. Pads and keys free the beat from its marching orders as they streak across the tracks in search of some human empathy in lieu of a dance floor.
Throughout the two-sides, Rev seeks some organic entity within the formulas of dance music, and takes the music out of the stuffy confines of a club into the fresh air, where we’ll dance el-fresco as the uppermost resonances touch the top of fir trees. Between elements of acid, IDM and ambient, Mikkel Rev channels a sound into a style with its major touchstone anchored in classic Trance, revamped for the future audiences of this forgotten, but endearing dance music genre.
VA – 15 Years Full Pupp Pt.3 (Full Pupp) 12″
15 years of Full Pupp. That should be enough. 15 years for any label is a feat worth aspiring to, but for Prins Thomas’ plucky Oslo-based outfit it had always seemed like an inevitability as the only outlet for Techno, House et al from Norway for nearly all this time. And in its fifteenth year, it’s only gone to prove itself as a dominating force in dance club music in Norway and beyond.
Releasing more music than ever in 2020 – and we don’t think the pandemic has anything to do with it – Full Pupp is putting out enough music the world over, all based on a small enclave of artists working from within Prins Thomas immediate artistic circle, based mostly in Norway. For the last 15 years, Full Pupp has been the measure to gauge the waters of Norwegian club music, and while it would still bear association with the Space Disco epithet for most, its discography reaches far and wide into everything from Disco to Techno, and that’s not considering all the sublabels.
In the landmark year for the label, Prins Thomas is celebrating the occasion with a series of compilation EPs from the artists that have contributed to the label over the years in a concerted effort from Prins Thomas to wrangle the eclectic sounds of the diverse record label into a concise sonic history. Part three in the series features another star-studded guest list with contributions from Skatebård, Iben Elaster, Magnus International and the second ever release of Wildflowers, the new collaborative project between Kaman Leung and Øyvind Morken.
Between the warbling acid of Prins Thomas’ treatment of Sitronsyre, to the cosmishe wizardry of Wildflower’s Magic Johnson, it’s a record that covers the vast expanse of Norway and Oslo’s club dialect and music history. It retains that intrinsic Full Pupp identity, which has even gone some way to define an artist like Skatebård’s music. The crisp sounds and the cold atmospheres creeping in between effervescent melodic excursions and lattice-like percussive arrangements, is indicative of the Full Pupp charm that has travelled from Norway to the furthest reaches of Japan and is enshrined in the expanding Full Pupp catalogue. Here’s to another fifteen years, Full Pupp.
Omformer – Ascending /Distance (HMD Records) 12”
I can’t think of a place anybody would rather be than hjemme med dama at the moment. The Oslo-based label and community celebrates five years years as a mix concept born out of the bedroom that has matured into an event series, a label and a festival, only to return to the bedroom in 2020, where it’s found some striking sympathy with the world around it in their latest.
Omformer bring their unique take on Trance and Ambient to HMD. Two extensive cuts, float between beat music and ambient texture across Ascending and Descending, as we go from the main floor to the second room of a nineties Rave across the release. An obscure narrative follows the record over two sides, as that swinging rope bridge from the dance floor to the living room. As Ascending’s lively intro drifts away into pirouetting acid figures and eventually drop into the languid mood of Distance, it marks the serene anti-climax of a night out, captured in sound.
It’s the ultimate come-down record for what’s proven to be the ultimate come-down situation, even though it was made way before the pandemic. But going from those ecstatic highs of the first half to the sluggish relief of the second half of the record, and even in the slow recesses of the Distance’s downtempo exaltations, Omformer find a chipper disposition as synthesisers leap across arrangement in buoyant movements.
Fredfades & Jawn Rice – Remixes (Mutual Intentions) 10”
House music hasn’t sounded this cool in a long time. If Eddie Murphy’s leather suits and Tom Hardy’s sneer made music, this is what it would sound like. Mutual Intentions have been unravelling the borders between Soul, House, Jazz, Hip Hop and Disco across their affiliates since establishing the concept, but it’s in the recent collaborative efforts of Jawn Rice and Fredfades where they’ve blurred these borders into a House music trope that engages as much as it entices.
After a stint in the hot tub as Jacuzzi Boys in 2018, the pair followed it up with Luv Neva Fades this year, a record that bathes in the same tropical warmth of its predecessor, but refining the sound with the help of a stellar cast of collaborators. Arriving around the same time, was a remix package of some released and unreleased material getting the treatment from the Jacuzzi Boyz themselves, Chmmr, Deep88 and Hugo LX.
From Chmmr re-assembling Show me How’s percussive arrangement to Hugo LX’s soulful excursions through Mutual Love’s horn sections, each artist imprints their own personality on these tracks, but it’s the hazy heat of Fredfades and Jawn Rice originals that remain at the center of the record’s appeal.
Chmmr’s icy melodic treatments and Deep88’s vision for the dance floor on I believe, show a different side to these tracks, but it’s the dusty keys and muggy atmospheres of the originals that is the glue that holds these tracks together.
Snorre Magnar Solberg – Arkhe Typos (On On Bulk)
Snorre Magnar Solberg communes with aliens on his latest; “A 1 hr journey into the realm of synthesizer shamanism, exploring ambi-trance, textural drone, uplifting acidic, cosmic cradle lullaby`s with added tribal machine rhythms.”
Solberg taps into the primordial ooze of emotion, converting introverted suggestions into movement and noise. Incandescent bleeps and squawks flicker from some subconscious diatribe in a cosmic language, reconstituted as sound and then music. Snorre Magnar Solberg dives deep into the recesses of an inanimate synthesiser on Arkhe Typos in a record that drifts between experimental improvisation and synthetic ambience.
Melodic refrains and harmonic passages with nowhere to go, float untethered, in a void across stark electronic soundscapes that feel more like ambient installation than anything from a dance music dialect. Touchstones from acid and trance coalesce around defiant formations progressing across the record like constellations, briefly revealing a hidden pattern, before dispersing into complete randomness.
* The cut with Filter Musikk goes live at Jaeger this Wednesday with a Vinyl Messe and DJ sets from Roland Lifjell and Sverre Brand.