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A proper aerobic workout demands a warm-up period, a spate of moderate to intense activity, and a cool-down session. It also demands a compelling soundtrack. Enter last year's Where You Go I Go Too — an album metabolizing the influences of late-'70s and early-'80s Krautrock, kosmiche disco, and Balearic house to further fuel the ascent of its composer, Norway's Hans-Peter Lindstrøm.
There's plenty of athletically angled music available for download – the Nike+ running series, for example. But outside of the rare example (LCD Soundsystem's motivational arc 45:33), none is really a proper album. Lindstrøm, however, presents a three-track affair on Where You Go that opens with a 29-minute epic and then segues smoothly into 10- and 16-minute suites. Using insistent arpeggios and darting portamento, he has made what could be the perfect composition for a treadmill; it's in constant motion, but never tears forward forcefully. The disc works off boundaries established by past record setters, even Lindstrøm himself, on 2007's Reinterpretations, which contained 10- and 20-minute tracks. And while it doesn't concern itself with complete separation from the pack, Lindstrøm's latest amalgamates previous traditions while setting a new personal best for the composer.
Sequestered in his Oslo home, Lindstrøm has continually chained together elements of electrofunk, motorik, and synth film scores into a paced meditation that rewards patience. Having released long-form singles and several dozen remixes since 2003 (both on his own and with fellow Norwegian Prins Thomas), Lindstrøm crafts midtempo tracks that sound progressively more palpable without relying on inflated bombast. It's quite a feat considering his layer upon layer of in-the-box percussion, synthetic pads, Hammond organ feedback, reverberant guitar, and outboard chaos.
Lindstrøm's most obvious tonal and contextual influences include Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygène, Michael Shrieve's Transfer Station Blue, and the oeuvre of Kraftwerk from Autobahn to Tour de France. Along the way, he tucks in fundamentals adapted from the harmonic halftones, oscillating melodies, and percolating cadences of Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, Jan Hammer, and more. Surveying these and other forebears, there's a feeling that the future was seen as transportive, and we would experience everything from the safety of our personal Biodomes and altitude-enabled DeLoreans.
Lindstrøm's similar retro-contemporary philosophy of lush transplendence works in the clubs, but also in much less exuberant environments: gyms, airports, anywhere featuring layers of activity that benefit when time both stands still and flies by. His compositions are more ambulatory than ambient, however, as they fold in sonic history while maintaining momentum. This is all borne on the context of space disco — a mood of clubbing amid iridescent cascades and elliptical flickers, as if inside a planetarium's laser show.
The tracks impress with breadth, and breath. The beat doesn't kick in on the title track for the first six minutes, and then occasionally drops. When, at the 17-minute mark, a panting sound permeates the foreground, there's a feeling of development, but one where gradual shifts more than grand gestures have made the greatest impression. Along the way, a mix of melodies fall off logical chord changes topped by freeform embellishments, the album's sensibility pulling from Afro-Cuban fusion to '70s-era Paul McCartney, from Steve Reich to Nina Hagen.
The bass tones maintain an adamant pulse, heightened on the dancefloor-oriented "Grand Ideas," and more checked on comparatively blithe "The Long Way Home." But what really impresses are the prismatic arrangements' ability to direct rather than distract. Synching intervals to a singular purpose, Lindstrøm uses Where You Go I Go Too to tone what he does best, stretching but never overexerting his take on cosmic tropes. Nobody wants to pull a muscle before the race, after all. And while Lindstrøm claims to be working on more concise, "accessible" songs (featuring singer Christabelle and a septet of drum machines) there's a feeling that he's still warming up rather than cooling down.
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