Review, Lindstrom & Christabelle, Real Life Is No Cool
Madonna, Goldfrapp and – God help us – Lady Gaga may get most of the press but for dance-oriented pop featuring a female vocalist Lindstrom & Christabelle’s collaboration on Real Life Is No Cool nails the target.
Lindstrom is well known in electronic dance music circles as one of the trio of Norwegian producers (along with Prins Thomas and Todd Terje) at the head of the recent space disco phenomenon. Lindstrom’s first album was Where You Go I Go Too which opened with a 28 minute track which made it pretty clear that this was a guy with major chops who was thinking way outside the box. The Lindstrom – Christabelle collaboration began before Where You Go I Go Too was produced but the two didn’t get around to completing an album until after Where You Go I Go Too was released.
In 2001 Christabelle’s brother was into Lindstrom’s music and played it at home. Christabelle heard it, dug it, and began singing vocal lines over Lindstrom’s instrumental dance tracks. The brother, who knew Lindstrom (they all lived in Oslo), recorded his sister and gave Lindstom the tapes. Lindstom liked what he heard and he and Christabelle met, hit it off and began working together on and off. Nine years later Real Life Is No Cool was released.
In many ways the ten tracks on Real Life Is No Cool come across as a fresh take on the last thirty years or so of dance music. Lindstrom, who never really listened to dance music until he sat down and figured out how to make it, takes a wide variety of dance-pop styles and composes new work using their instruments and rhythms. For example, “Baby Can’t Stop” sounds like something Michael Jackson would have jumped all over to include on Off the Wall while “Lovesick” is a terrific piece of disco funk.
It’s not all about nostalgia, however. “Never Say Never” is a spaced out sound collage that then leads into CD closer “High & Low” which combines a Frankie Beverly and Maze slow groove with Christabelle doing a Donna Summer sultry vocal along with a dirty guitar break.
I once had the sadly unpleasant experience of eating dinner at a table next to Madonna in a restaurant in Paris (if interested you can read about it here). When she walked in I didn’t recognize her at first but I was struck by how much effort this woman had put into trying to look younger than she was. It looked like a small army had been roped into applying pounds of makeup in a vain attempt to recapture something that was long past. Listening to Real Life Is No Cool in the context of the hyped new releases from the dance-pop divas reminded me of that dinner. Where the divas slather thick layers of modern production techniques on music that is basically old and tired, Lindstrom and Christabelle look back for inspiration to make something fresh and new.
“Lovesick”, from Real Life Is No Cool
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