King of the Norwegian dance-floor, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm bewildered most of his disciples earlier this year with Six Cups Of Rebel, a hugely experimental and proggy effort which lurched from 70s Blaxploitation funk to classical baroque in a manner which bordered on self-indulgence.
As if to appease those who had previously climbed aboard his cosmic disco spaceship, the 39-year-old has swiftly gone back-to-basics for his third solo studio album, Smalhans. In fact, clocking in at a mere 33 minutes, this hastily assembled follow-up is arguably the most streamlined record of his career.
Named after a variety of traditional and cheap-to-make Norwegian dishes, from a sheep sausage delicacy popular in Voss to a kind of alternative eggnog, the album’s six tracks are largely trimmed of the fat that made Lindstrøm’s first 2012 course such a bloated affair.
Setting the unashamedly 80s tone from the outset, opener “Ra-ako-st” feels like it should come equipped with a free pastel-coloured suit jacket, its chunky riffs and cascading synths effortlessly nailing the cop show vibes of Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice themes. Elsewhere, there are also nods to Giorgio Moroder on the bubbling bass-lines of “Eg-ged-osis,” Vangelis on the euphoric sci-fi tinged closer “Va-fle-r” and Jean Michel Jarre on the analogue electro of “Lamm-el-aar.”
Smalhans therefore often sounds like a tribute to the decade that taste forgot’s keyboard wizards, but the presence of fellow Scandinavian maverick Todd Terje on mixing duties ensures that at least it’s a playful homage.
The Chromeo-esque synth-funk of “Vos-sako-rv” builds up to a cartoonish crescendo which at one point threatens to burst into the Looney Tunes theme, whilst “Faar-i-kaal” fuses classic video game bleeps with early 90s trance-pop and an array of choral vocals to produce a strangely haunting slice of electronica which could give Royksopp a run for their money.
Arriving so soon after its predecessor, Smalhans feels more like a damage limitation stopgap than a fully-formed LP. But it’s still a hugely enjoyable if slightly all-too-familiar listen, which suggests that Lindstrøm has wisely got his avant-garde tendencies out of his system.