Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Prins Thomas - Prins Thomas (SUMMER 2010)

Prins Thomas

Prins Thomas
Full Pupp Records.

SCQ Rating: 78%

Whoa, whoa, whoa… self-titled record? With a picture of himself gracing the cover? Is this the dark horse mastermind of space-disco or the latest American Idol cash-in produced by Clive Davis? At first it may look strange, garish even, but given that Thomas Moen Hermansen has spent his prestigious career sharing marquee-space as remixer, producer or, most famously, as collaborator on Lindstrom & Prins Thomas releases, it’s understandable that his first solo album in, er, forever should find him basking in every reflection of the limelight available.

Chosen title and cover-art aside, the weightier question probes whether Hermansen, who has proven himself gifted in a collaborative role, can write a solid song from foundation to completion on his own. In this regard, Prins Thomas is a bit of a revelation. For those of us unwilling to stalk Hermansen’s work through one-off remixes that trickle onto iTunes, his Lindstrom-associated LPs have been our leading introduction to Prins Thomas’ craft. And essentially, all we’ve learned about the man boils down to those vague aspects of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas albums that don’t – in our minds – sound like Lindstrom. Prins Thomas wipes those foggy assumptions clean for most casual fans by clarifying his space-disco muses: lotsa kraut and prog-rock influences webbed into dense electronic tapestries. To compare where we concretely can, Prins Thomas sounds like a continuation of II, their 2009 journey of mostly wonderful excess. The beats remain caked in an organic wash of 70s stoner-jams, delivering faded, echoey guitar licks on ‘Orkenvandring’ and psychedelic effects permeating the island percussion of ‘Uggebugg’.

With motorik-style bass and proggy freakouts gently lining these seven tracks, ‘Wendy Not Walter’ nearly shocks with a series of stuttering synths and unflinching disco beats, uncluttered and refined. Hermansen’s just playing around though, revisiting the pristine waters that established his reputation, before bass prods and mind-warping effects crash the early sub-genre nostalgia. This is indeed space-disco for 2010, still true to the spirit of forward-thinking disco but also saturated in heady cult-like styles preserved since LSD first touched the lips of rock and roll.

No differently than II, this solo LP lacks the meticulous filter of, say, the first Lindstrom collaboration and that results in some decent grooves being stretched beyond their appeal (e.g. the ten-minute long ‘Sauerkraut’ is too structurally muddled to get out of neutral). And again, like II, Prins Thomas risks letting his love of krautrock rhythms grow tired and turn homogenous, as a few tracks can be difficult to audibly separate. For all its likeminded attributes, however, it’s worth noting that Prins Thomas is just as good, if not more focused, than II. Before this record existed, Hermansen’s craft was coarsely understood as everything that didn’t sound like Lindstrom but, now, with a solo album that sounds slightly superior to II’s vein of gratuitous head-trips, one must wonder, in retrospect, where Lindstrom actually fit into that 2009 effort. Prins Thomas doesn’t negate Lindstrom’s worth in the duo – that would be a foolish assertion, even if this solo LP is just as accomplished as their collaborations – but it does exclaim in spades how gifted the Prins is on his own.

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