Where You Go I Go Too
(Smalltown Supersound; 2008)
By David Abravanel | 19 August 2008
Consider the title of Where You Go I Go Too somewhat of a flipped statement: the latest from Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is a journey, no doubt, but in order to enjoy it, the listener must be ready to fully surrender to Lindstrøm’s whims, sudden left turns, and deal with him driving frustratingly slower and faster than the speed limit at various points. At three tracks and a 55:06 runtime, there’s no pretending to have any control over where the techno trips travel here. Try, and Where I Go You Go Too becomes a monkey on your back, impossible to shake.
Unless, of course, you remove the headphones, but I’d recommend against it. A decent, over-ear pair is neccessary to really feel the panning on those roundabouts, or take in the full grandeur of the techno city that comes into view when Lindstrøm hits those whooshing, reverberated overpasses. There’s a dance beat here, but the track lengths and contemplative, evolving nature of the music distance these recordings from the dance floor. Lindstrøm’s name-making remix work with Prins Thomas—with its tendency toward 10-minute plus track lengths and extremely repetitive distillations of house—makes for a good trial run of what’s in store on this album.
Begin with the behemoth centerpiece. Clocking in at almost 30 minutes, the title track explores a finite number of variations and manipulations of a series of bell-like, arpeggiated synths. Lindstrøm’s heavy breathing guides the listener at various points, or perhaps ground her in something warm and humane against the blissful heights that the track reaches. Unfortunately, “Where You Go I Go Too” doesn’t have the power to hold interest for its entirety, marked by a feeling that sets in about halfway through; the final fifteen minutes start to look like an eternity. This ambient lull, in which the aforementioned heavy breathing plays a starring role, relegating ambient synth noodling to the background, is the big test of one’s ability to endure and trust in Lindstrøm. Those with no interest in minimalism, techno, or spacey disco will find the whole endeavor dull and fruitless, but those who have that acquired taste stick around for the return of the muted guitar licks and beautiful pads, as the final five minutes brings everything into a beautiful resolution. I won’t say, “climax,” because, honestly, there’s no such thing on “Where You Go I Go Too.” Chalk this up as another flaw and/or test.
Of the remaining two tracks—which can’t help but feel like B-sides next to the monolithic first piece—we get a manic chase theme in “Grand Ideas” and mutated lounge disco on “The Long Way Home.” The former brings home the hints at sci-fi movie soundtrack conventions from “Where You Go I Go Too,” as a minor progression of arpeggios and the heartbeat pound of a bass drum give way to sinister pads with sharp teeth. The specter of Vangelis’ brilliant work on the Blade Runner soundtrack (1984) is heavy here, and it makes “Grand” all the more engaging of a listen. Where “Where” is a cruise through the more gentrified areas of the stunning techno city, (tour) agent Lindstrøm sends the listener out on a special assignment for “Grand Ideas,” through the seedy corners and dank alleyways. Watch out for the shady Chinese food vendors and Judge Dredd. “Grand Ideas” finds a satisfying crescendo in its last four minutes as the synth progression lets in a major-chord counterpart for a more celebratory atmosphere, before collapsing over a two-minute drone.
The reward for having braved such a mission is “The Long Way Home,” the biggest curveball on Where You Go I Go Too. After six minutes of tense arpeggios (again, yeah), the payoff comes in the form of a disco lite bass line, laden with digital jazz-fusion chimes and reserved electronic piano chords. The ax is dusted off again, for some loungey chord progressions. More than any other track on Where You Go I Go Too, “The Long Way Home” requires a lot of patience and repeated listens to get into. The payoff is there, as Lindstrøm’s unironic embrace of such easily lampooned musical building blocks makes for an eccentric and heartfelt wave goodbye.
There’s no way for me to accurately predict whether or not someone will enjoy Where You Go I Go Too based on my opinions alone. This album is a textbook grower, not just because it demands repeated listens, but also because the pieces all start similarly and take their sweet time to reveal the individually entrancing things they are. For some listeners, the investment’s not worth it, which is no judgment on them but a comment on the nature of this music. Lindstrøm has chosen to forego the bite-sized nuggets of instant gratification that many of his abstract contemporaries have slowly gravitated toward, encouraging listeners instead to get comfy and let control slip away.