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Prins Thomas — Principe Del Norte (Feb. 19, 2016)

Prins Thomas — Principe Del Norte (Feb. 19, 2016)

   Prins Thomas — Principe Del Norte (Feb. 19, 2016)
♣   Norwegian producer whose vision of space disco encompasses house, minimal techno, electro, and more. Also known as: Thomas Moen Hermansen
Born: February 17, 1975 in Norway
Location: Norway
Album release: Feb. 19, 2016
Record Label: Smalltown Supersound
Duration:     96:25
Tracks:
Disc 1
1 A1     8:06 
2 A2     7:36 
3 B     11:44 
4 C     13:55 
5 D     11:52 
Disc 2
1 E     7:56 
2 F     8:39 
3 G     13:15 
4 H     13:22
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson;  Score: ****
♣   Best known for his swirling space–disco tracks, produced both as a solo artist and with frequent collaborator Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas explored more of his ambient, Krautrock, and downtempo influences with his 3rd solo album, issued in 2014.
♣   Following the 2015 release of an ambitious 3CD mix titled Paradise Goulash, which incorporated everything from avant jazz and industrial to minimal techno and indie rock, Thomas went further out of orbit with his next proper full–length, the 96–minute opus Principe del Norte. The album’s extended, side–long tracks are a direct homage to the heyday of gatefold vinyl and prog rock, particularly of the hypnotic, synthesizer–driven variety. Much of the album de–emphasizes beats, instead concentrating on percolating arpeggios and slowly developing minimalist textures. Crystalline guitar tones help shape the cloudlike sonic constructions, but the electronic treatments and softly clicking beats owe equally to ’90s ambient techno artists like Pete Namlook as well as to the ’70s and ’80s cosmic explorations of Manuel Göttsching and Steve Hillage. The album’s second CD (or final two LPs) brings the beats back to the forefront, retaining the bubbling, circular atmospheres but adding propulsive (yet not intrusive) disco rhythms. Tracks like “G” perfectly strike a balance between ethereal elements and grooves, with a meaty bass guitar line and handclaps, along with shimmering synths and lightly distorted guitars smoldering beneath everything. The effect is relaxing and meditative as well as energizing, with neither the dance or space–out sides of the equation feeling out of place. Even with the album’s epic length, it never feels meandering or indulgent, as Prins Thomas remains supremely focused throughout the entire journey, finding the duality between the different types of “cosmic” music.Review
ANDY BETA, Published February 10, 201611:00 PM ET
♣   When the music of Norwegian producer Prins Thomas began to be heard outside of his native country back in 2005, it was crafted in collaboration with his friend Hans–Peter Lindstrøm. The material was deemed "cosmic disco” — a fitting tag, as the duo loved both the moon–boot–stomping beat of 1970s disco and the ARP– and Moog–heavy head-trip tracks made by the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Herbie Hancock and Klaus Schulze, which hinted at the firmament high above the dance floor.
♣   And while Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas haven’t collaborated together since 2009’s album II, Prins Thomas has continued to mine that fertile ground between the heady and the body–moving as a solo artist. Last year’s overly generous dance mix, Paradise Goulash, clocked in at nearly 60 tracks and moved from the bubbling Balearic of Wally Badarou to the minimal techno of Robert Hood, emphasizing the “disco” side of the equation. But for his fourth solo album, Principe Del Norte, Thomas is firmly focused on the “cosmic.” The nine tracks expand to nearly 100 minutes of music, soundtracking a voyage into the deepest spaces of the mind.
♣   Which is not to categorize Principe Del Norte as merely an ambient excursion. The album’s first two–thirds do evoke zero gravity, which can be exhilarating and anxiety–inducing in equal measure. Layer after layer of arpeggiated synthesizers stack up in “A1,” building to almost dizzying heights. Each new synth line and shift reveals a new array of patterns, creating density that brings to mind Terry Riley’s early electric organ explorations. Warmer and slower keys open “A2” before gently gliding into a slow, flanged drum–machine beat and distant chiming guitar. And the 14 minutes of “C” strike a balance between drift and dissonance.
♣   Prins Thomas calls this his ode to late–’90s ambient music, and while it does love the tones of folks like Pete Namlook, The Orb, Black Dog and Spacetime Continuum, it also hearkens back to Prins Thomas’ beloved ’70s prog, especially the Virgin Records back catalog and side–long tracks. It’s a good fit, since Thomas has a knack for remixes that often extend into double–digit runtimes, and he’s comfortable working on such a grand scale. Some long, mesmeric sections draw on Faust’s playful and noisy song, “Krautrock” from Faust IV. With its spindly guitar melody, throbbing modular synthesizers and careful build, “B” evokes Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick, while the pinging, percolating blips of “D” sound like something Ashra’s Manuel Göttsching might have concocted in the late ’70s.
♣   Almost an hour in, one of Prins Thomas’ telltale stomping beats finally appears in “E.” Over the last half–hour, Thomas gives his spacey tracks some propulsion. Album highlight “G” keeps all the ethereal washes of vintage synthesizers and tingling arpeggios aloft while also coupling them to a two–note bass ostinato and thumping beat — in the process proving that 10 years on, Prins Thomas can still craft some thrilling cosmic disco. ♣   http://www.npr.org/
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Prins Thomas — Principe Del Norte (Feb. 19, 2016)

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