Review: Prins Thomas, Prins Thomas
Prins Thomas, along with fellow Norwegians Lindstrom and Todd Terje, are at the forefront of the dance music genre referred to as space disco, nu disco or nu Balearic. Thus far Thomas has been most well know for his collaboration with Lindstrom on two genre-defining albums, his many often strikingly good remixes, and his record label Full Pupp. The self-titled Prins Thomas is, to the best of my knowledge, his first full-length CD that is made up entirely of his own material.
I tuned in to space disco mainly through Prins Thomas when I had a run of especially enjoying different tracks on various mix collections and discovering that they were all Prins Thomas remixes. Accordingly, I hunted far and wide to find his lightly mixed collection, Cosmo Galactic Prism, a label compilation from Full Pupp, the unfortunately named Greatest Tits Vol. 1, and a set he did for the Live at Robert Johnson series along with his more easily found collaborations with Lindstrom. With all of that as background, I was still surprised with Prins Thomas.
With relatively minor exceptions on two tracks, Thomas wrote, performed, “fixed and mixed” everything on Prins Thomas. The breadth of the music in terms of the variety of instruments, timbres, and styles on the album is remarkable. Thomas is not wedded to a limited number of synthesizers, multi-sampled instruments or drum programs. He uses electronic and analog sounds with equal and great facility. He is also a master at layering sounds together. Any given segment of any track on Prins Thomas may be composed of any number of layered instrumental tracks and, without fail, they all work seamlessly together. Prins Thomas is a masterfully crafted CD. The skill with which Thomas combines such a wide variety of sounds results in an album where each track gives you no idea what the next track is going to sound like. There is no identifiable “Prins Thomas sound” here unless immaculate production is counted as a “sound”.
The strengths of the CD are also it’s weakness. The same breadth of instrumentation and variety of sounds and styles that describes the album is also a viable characterization of each of the tracks on the album. From where it starts, you never know where any of the tracks on Prins Thomas are going to end up. Thomas avoids anything like standard song structure and presents tracks that move from segment to segment on melodic or timbral paths that have little or nothing to do with repeating segments that might correspond to something like a chorus or a verse. Many tracks are based on a fundamental rhythm that holds through most of the track but beyond that, anything goes. The movements from one segment to the next are smoothly accomplished but the overall effect is of a directionless music that just goes here and there. Each track, taken alone, is expertly constructed and both interesting and enjoyable to listen to. Listening to the entire CD can leave one feeling unfulfilled because it doesn’t seem to add up to anything.
I’ve listened to Prins Thomas many times now and every time I put it on I find the same thing happens. If I focus my attention on the music I hear something new I didn’t pick up on before, I am presented with a wealth of ideas about how I could improve my own music, and I end up having had a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. If my mind wanders while the music is playing I’m left with a feeling of emptiness because the breadth of instrumentation and lack of structure both within and across songs leaves you with nothing to latch on to if you weren’t paying attention.
Attiatte from Prins Thomas
1 Comment »