Album of the Week: Prins Thomas – Ambitions

Writing about a new Prins Thomas LP has become a regular occurrence here at Jaeger over the last two years. He’s found a creative stride in the album format since “Principe Del Norte” as a solo artist and collaborator for Smalltown Supersound. “Ambitions” is his second solo effort and fourth LP for the Oslo based label in the last three years. In between he’s also released 5 (his fifth studio LP) on his own Prins Thomas Musikk imprint or Full Pupp and a string of EPs, remixes and singles, all culminating in one of the most prolific eras for Prins Thomas as an artist since the start of is career.

“Ambitions”, like “Principe Del Norte” absconds from Thomas’ numerically titled LPs and like “Square One” with Bjørn Torske and the LP he made with Bugge Wesseltoft before this one, it veers from the “space disco” sound he’s cultivated through the years. “Ambitions” favours a similar organic approach to those records, a kind of krautrock, pop record that marries Prins Thomas extensive musical dialogue as a DJ with his skilfully precise work as a producer. Everything lately in Prins Thomas’ music seems to be underpinned by some funky bass guitar, bouncing between bongo drums, as synthetic manoeuvres breeze by in free improvised melodic expressions tethered to a whim.

Past the ambient opener of “Ambitions”, we jump right into that sound on “XSB” and from there the album scours the absolute limits of Thomas’ musical abilities as Disco, Funk, House and Synth Wave converge on this LP. It is indeed an ambitious endeavour as Thomas attempts to bring these disparate corners of his musical purview together on the LP. The tracks on “Ambitions” were recorded in isolation and independently from each other in various fleeting circumstances; hotel rooms, airplanes, backstage rooms, patios and studios. It was only when Joakim Haugland from Smalltown Supersound turned his “critical ears” to these works that they started to take shape as an album through Thomas’ distinctive production touch.

It’s an album made up of songs, rather than a defined concept or context and for the listener this creates ephemeral relationships with distant musical universes, that never quite lands on its feet as an album, but like a Prins Thomas DJ set, keeps pulling you off towards a new direction at the turn of each track. Unlike his last LP on Smalltown Supersound, “Principe Del Norte”there are specific moments like “Feel the Love” which seems to be directed for the dance floor, but at the same time there are also those more contemplative moments like the title track and its objective associations.

The resemblances to Prins Thomas’ previous numerical LPs are tenuous, as it was for the previous Smalltown Supersound works, and it seems that the label boss has unearthed, and is nurturing a new side to Prins Thomas’ artistry one that has been embedded in very fertile ground of late.