Published Nov 16, 2020Norway's leading post-techno explorers, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas have reunited again, following up 2009's II with the unsurprisingly titled III. Their latest collaboration finds them in fine form, blending a rich array of styles into a complex but natural-sounding mix that always feels effortlessly conjured. It demands some patience, perhaps, eschewing bold gestures in favour of a more restrained ebb and flow, but close attention reveals a rewarding galaxy of granular detail and subtle shifts.
Space metaphors are apt here, as the most prevalent vibe of III is cosmic — an aesthetic with roots reaching back as far as German kosmische. The twist here is the very French-sounding disco-funk undercurrent that carries it all along, often recalling a more open-ended Air, or some of the more pensive moods on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.
The album opens gently with the cheeky "Grand Finale" — a hazy dusk of a track, jewelled with a tinkling piano lead so fragile it seems almost wrong to turn up too loud, before upping the tempo for the tasteful grooving of "Martin 5000" — the kind of immaculate but fairly standard toe tapper the duo have been putting out for years. It's in the album's quietly psychedelic centre that things get really special — the intricate arpeggios sparkling in the background of "Small Stream," the analogue chirping in "Oranges" that sounds like two friendly comets in conversation; they're small details, but this is an album about exactly that.
Those who prefer the more straightforward and rousing fare the two have released outside this project should be advised that III is definitely more ethereal drift than shooting star. Longtime fans will know what to expect, however, and while it's more of the same perhaps, it's arguably the best iteration yet. (Smalltown Supersound)