Lindstrøm Six Cups Of Rebel(Smalltown Supersound) Buy it from Insound
Three and a half years have passed since the release of Lindstrøm’s debut full-length proper, the masterful Where You Go I Go Too, and I still can’t get enough of it. Its epic prog-disco was an especially satisfying example of control and release; it showed ambient techno steadily and sometimes imperceptibly morphing into something huger, all the suspense making the climaxes sound even more tremendous.
So, is Lindstrøm trying to distance himself from those epic proportions? Six Cups of Rebel certainly seems that way, with seven tracks that almost resemble a roll-call of his diverse influences. For better or for worse, he really puts all his cards on the table, both in creative directions and musicianship, incorporating live instrumentation, analogue synths, and digital effects about equally. It’s certainly been laboured over, but it’s not quite the same Lindstrøm we’re used to.
Not to criticise him for making a departure; it’s just that this change-up is characterised by some baffling aesthetic decisions. There’s the Philip Glass-aping organ sequence of opener No Release, devoid of Glass’ immersive beauty. And the dated, early Warp Records-esque analogue synth loops on the directionless title track, which Lindstrøm actually seems to quickly tire of himself, cramming the thing with haphazard FX knob twiddles and percussive bursts. The beginning of Call Me Anytime is most aurally offensive, as its twiddly, airy intro is lost in sparring, dissonant MIDI instruments (seriously), descending into the sounds of keys being held down on some ghastly Casio percussion setting, reminding me of a particularly unproductive GCSE Music lesson.
But the poppier tracks are genuinely entertaining, the sounds of the producer beginning to enjoy himself. Tracks two to four are funk by way of Daft Punk, like a more boisterous version of his collaboration with Christabelle, 2010’s Real Life Is No Cool. Here the album’s overstuffing works in its favour, unreservedly madcap and danceable, particularly on lead track De Javu. The pitch-shifted vocals veer from endearing to irritating, but it’s supposed to be both jarring and buoyant, (cf. the 7/4 bassline under the 4/4 disco of Majik). It’s just that so many of the risks taken are either unevocative or plain annoying, particularly when the tracks are structured with so little sense of development.
The record ends with the same descending organ arpeggios with which it opened, implying a circular structure that belies the album’s lack of cohesion. Lindstrøm’s attention span appears to have dropped significantly as he made this record; what he’s most sorely missing is subtlety. There may be some great ideas on here amongst the mis-steps, but without any suspense, it is difficult to tell.15 February, 2012 - 08:52 — Stephen Wragg