Prins Thomas Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas

[Eskimo; 2006]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: synth pop, electro-disco soundtracks, Italo, progressive

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Thomas Moen Hermansen (known by his friends as Prins Thomas) have certainly won over the hearts of Giorgio Moroder, Tangerine Dream, Goblin, and many others. As Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, the Norwegian duo produce lovingly crafted new wave/Italo disco/post-punk dance music that ultimately manifests itself in a meticulously authentic recreation of '80s synth pop. Lushly cinematic and ambitious in its scope, the duo's eponymous Eskimo Records debut sounds so 1984 that it's almost touching. Short of the inclusion of a collaborative track with the remaining members of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, there's not much more Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas could have done to make the record sound more convincing.

Like many of the popular scores from mid-'80s cinema, Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas mix synthesizers and ambient electronic textures with live instrumentation to achieve a somewhat sterile, robotically organic post-Kraftwerk aesthetic. Similarly, in the tradition of '80s new wave, it is frequently difficult to discern whether the drumming is being performed by a human or machine. At 13 tracks, and pushing 70 minutes in length, Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas is a hefty slab of '80s disco that will leave those who can still find artistic merit in the soundtracks for films such as Risky Business, Cat People, Near Dark, Scarface, and even Beverly Hills Cop fully sated. But while some might dismiss the above soundtracks as tacky, horribly dated kitsch, Lindstrøm and Hermansen have effectively mined the idiom for inspiration, creating quality instrumental compositions that focus on the more tasteful aspects of the genre and dispense with the camp.

Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas set a particularly infectious tone with "Foreløpig Bit," the album's opening track. With its driving percussion, pelvic-level bass playing, and haunting, Eastern-flavored synthesizer melodies, the piece seizes your attention from the get-go (and, truth be told, despite the album's length, this reviewer's attention did precious little in the way of flagging throughout the duration of the record). Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas resonates with an integrity that never wanes.

Upon looking at the duo's picture in the press release, I found myself wondering whether or not Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Thomas Hermansen had even been born by the time the mid-'80s rolled around. I don't know, and I suppose it's not really all that relevant in the scheme of things. Perhaps the fact that these two learned to appreciate the halcyon days of new wave decades after the fact has heightened the duo's sensitivity to the nuances of the genre. Nevertheless, these tracks demonstrate the virtues of discipline and restraint in the recording studio. "Boney M Dawn" and "Claudia" are tightly structured pieces, heavily informed by Italian disco, as well as being two of the record's highlights. The album's closing track, "Run," which was composed and sung by Torgunn Flaten (and has the distinction of being the LP's only vocal piece) is an evocative, nostalgic recording that betrays the influence of Giorgio Moroder. The opulence and prog-like affectations of the piece make it an appropriate album closer.

Although the album's homogeneity can be a bit heavy-handed at times and despite the brazenly derivative nature of the project, Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas is an extraordinarily impressive debut that will actually leave you thinking about the '80s without cringing.

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