Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas

II

(Eskimo; 2009)

By Joel Elliott | 8 September 2009

It’s not Lindstrom and Prins Thomas’ fault that their music is remarkably easy to let simmer in the background. In that respect, I’ll take full blame for letting the album sit for 3 1/2 months past its release date before even thinking about tackling it. The good people at Eskimo Records were kind enough to send me a cute little car freshener pine tree, still probably the best promo package I’ve ever received (note to other PR people: you win my heart better with trinkets than Carlos Castaneda-style mystical exegesis). Come to think of it, the album is a bit like that freshener, completely satisfied to bring some small shard of happiness to your day and help cover up the putrid stench of everyday life.

In fact, I can’t think of another recent album that manages to be so thoroughly unimposing without treading into detachment and irony. The pair’s second collaboration is too sincere and intricate for that; too many genres are invited in to be masked with chloroform for it to refer to anything outside of itself. It’s so lacking a concept that it paradoxically becomes an artistic wonder: an album so enamored with craft and process that it freely flips from bedroom furniture to objet d’art than back again.

Part of the appeal is a kind of reverse-climax, the most fulfilling parts—like the last minute in “For Ett Slikk Og Ingenting”—where the pair pull elements out leaving a hollow drum beat or single chord to resonate. There’s certainly not the kind of energy and general momentum found even in Where You Go I Go Too (2008), which so many people already found a massive endurance test, but it is relatively less predictable. The promo copy’s eight songs are divided arbitrarily into 99, and while the more functional aspects of that strategy are clear—to prevent leaks, to encourage sitting through the entire album—there’s also a sense in which the album is an exquisite corpse, each fifteen second-to-a-minute-and-a-half section tied only to what came before, and not the context of the “song” or album as a whole.

It can be frustrating, but what saves it are the little rabbit holes of sound that wind in between the beats. The most notable and relatively pedestrian elements, like the bongos on “Cisco” or the folky guitar on “Gudene Vet + Snutt,” don’t really account for what’s going on, which is neither Balearic funk nor Tangerine Dream drift but something that wants it both ways, continually pulling the tracks into comedown mode even as they’re rising. It’s fascinating like the complete dissection of dance music inevitably is going to be, but it can’t save the album’s more ornamental qualities. Admittedly, when they do embrace a hook, like that smooth-soul guitar at the beginning of “Note I Love You + 100,” it becomes more inherently satisfying, especially in the way it seems to radically morph based solely on what’s going on around it.

There’s definitely an aspiration towards ’70s prog/kraut rock—if not in general sound, then at least spirit—which is the one time II shows its seams. If the piano on “For Ett” isn’t ripped wholesale from Pink Floyd then at the very least the influence is pretty unmistakable. Still, these are two artists who embrace a wider palette than that, and parts of “Rett På” (again it feels arbitrary to refer to whole songs) make almost every other jam band/dance fusion act sound technically inept in comparison. And at the very least, II manages consistency where so many collaborations sound like two minds in separate corners.

:: myspace.com/lindstromandprinsthomas