Premiere: Telemark Express – Sparkling

We get a sneak preview of the latest offering from Jarle Bråthen and Kellini’s Telemark Express outfit while we catch up with the duo through a Q&A.

It’s like driving with the top down through the winding roads of Norway’s southern roads, when Telemark Express’ Divine Drive hits your ears. Between an aggressively sheer cliff-face and a tranquil body of water, the 80’s cabriolet floats as if on air, attacking each corner and sailing out on the other side, on the wave of synthesiser.

Light and dark pass a baton as if in some perpetual relay between tunnels and open roads, while the wind whistles a tune past your ear. An Alpine cassette deck chews up a tape where a bouncing disco kick punctuates a train-like synth sequence. This is the sound and imagery that Telemark express conjures through the  “Sparkling” EP coming via Paper Recordings to us today. 

Telemark Express are Kjetil Lagesen and Jarle Bråthen. A pair of solo artists, working in the ethereal outer reaches of Disco and House, Jarle and Kjetil forged some abstract bond based on origin and a shared love of similar sounds. Accomplished DJs based in Skien and Berlin respectively today, Kjetil and Jarle initially hail from Telemark. They came together as Telemark Express for the first time in 2019 to release Writer’s Block with the sophomore effort reaching our ears today on the eve of “Sparkling’s” release. 

“‘Divine Drive’ channels Kraftwerk, kosmische and the 80s by way of the Mediterranean for a chugging late night / early morning track that would be equally at home in Berlin, Ibiza or Oslo,” while “Sparkling Vibrant keeps it low and late with a broken beat, shuffling percussion, creamy pads and spacey lead,” according to the label. 

The record is a vibrant effort between motorik beats and allusions to Norway’s Disco roots in a combination that takes the best of both worlds in something that shimmers like the last violent expulsions of a star going supernova. The charming melodies and grunting rhythms fuse in a cinematic vignette unfolding in sound. Visceral and functional, it entices on various levels, and we’re happy to be able to share the first track from it ahead of its release. 

We caught up with Telemark express via email and this is what they had to say about this release and working together. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. You’re back together again as Telemark Express. What was the catalyst for the Sparkling E.P?

We had some time together in Skien and just went for it, cause normally we are not in the same city. 

What was it that cemented for you during the making of Writer’s Block, that you have taken into this second EP?

Our combined critical listening makes the cement for this project generally. This is on purpose but with “Sparkling” we wanted to start with a fresh sound palette.

What’s the main difference between Sparkling and Writer’s Block in your opinion?

The main difference is definitely motivation. ”Writers”, was because of a writer’s block we both had and with “Sparkling” we wanted to make something else with another point of view. 

I can just imagine myself driving around those winding roads of Telemark with Divine Drive playing (preferably through an alpine cassette system). Is there something to these themes that was there before you started making this EP?

I believe these images you describe are subconsciously imprinted in us merely just from the fact that we are hailing from the Telemark region. 

And besides Kraftwerk, were there any prevalent musical touchstones?

There are a lot of influences for us but two tracks that we feel combined our taste are “Genesis – Tonight Tonight Tonight 12” extended mix” and “Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Flood remix)”

What were some of the central sounds and/or instruments to the two tracks?

Mostly 80s related synth sounds resonated this time : Jupiter 8 pads,Yamaha DX 7 sounds  and Minimoog for leads. We are totally “in the box” so we are not tweaking away on some hardware gadget.

Jarle, we know you spend much of your time in Berlin (at least before the pandemic) and Kjetil you’re based just down the road from Jaeger. How did the distance affect the making of Sparkling and was there a conscious effort to bridge that gap between the German kosmische sounds and those Norwegian influences like Italo and Disco?

Nothing with this Ep soundscape is a conscious effort to sound a certain way. However, we all get influenced by our environment. Even if we send some sketches upfront, we only make the tracks when we are together at one place which makes the session a rarity these days.

Sparkling retains a very Norwegian sound, much like Writer’s Block. Do you think you can boil that sound down to some key words?

Dreamy and lush synth pads and 80s leads with attitude sneaking up behind.

How did you and this record end up on Paper Recordings?

We didn’t have any particular plans for any release originally but paper seemed like a good idea and luckily they felt the same. 

And now that you’re done with this EP, what else have you guys got lined up, together and individually for the near future?

We both have solo releases planned this spring/summer and we are both gonna DJ individually at Halvøya festival, Kristiansand in Norway in June. So if there will be time we maybe start working on a new The Telemark Express EP.