Rating: 2.75/5The spirit of disco didn’t die along with the goldfish trapped in the clear heels of its platform shoes. The more desirable beats and electronic elements have evolved into different incarnations and reached for the stars in the process. Norway’s Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has made a name for himself by salvaging four-to-the-floor remnants from that prehistoric genre and giving them new legs, adding in the trippy atmospherics that have risen in popularity within the past decade-plus, especially in northern Europe. While he’s achieved varying degrees of success with his stabs at “space disco” in the past (much of it as a producer and remixing DJ), he takes a new route with Six Cups of Rebel. And though you can’t fault him for branching out, this album proves that sometimes you need to dance with the one that brought you.
Lindstrøm’s 2008 record Where You Go I Go Too went for full-on soundscape, as the LP with only three tracks billowed out to well over a dozen minutes in each. With Six Cups of Rebel, Lindstrøm abandons the marathon-track approach and falls more in line with 2006’s It’s a Feedelity Affair. But the similarities end there.
The five-minute intro track “No Release” synthesizes the kind of massive church organ sound and manic finger-work you’d expect to hear from the underground lair of a deformed opera house dweller. “No Release” leads into the heavy-hitting “De Javu,” which is a slow build of synths and samples. It’s the kind of music meant for ear buds on a distance run or for watching from a car window as the skyline of a brightly lit city slips past. At times, Lindstrøm exhibits a knack for layering in complexities to build a wall of sound that throbs with each beat. But the vocal samples overwhelm the latter segment of this track and everything careens off the rails from there.
“Magik” utilizes indecipherable vocal loops (which actually work better than the more intelligible ones) and break beat drums along with large swells of electronic noodling. Halfway in, the chattering vocals take on a head-bouncing cadence that surfs atop the instrumentation, but the track eventually morphs into what could be the overblown theme to an awards show. “Quiet Place to Live” allows some digitally slurred but coherent vocal loops (this album marks the first time Lindstrøm’s own voice appears in his music) to permeate the beginning of a track that’s also rife with an otherwise infrequent guitar. Over the course of its six-and-a-half minutes it sounds as though, instead of successfully ascending a ladder to heaven, it trips and hits its chin on every rung on the way down.
At least you can say that each track is its own animal. “Call Me Anytime” incorporates basic woodwinds to conjure a tribal feel that comes off as forced and unfocused, even before it merges into a cacophony of mashed organ keys and what sounds like a novice tinkering with scales, all while a machinegun drum rattles off in the background. The track melts into something less abrasive and convoluted and actually develops into a halfway decent groove by its midpoint, but Lindstrøm has already demanded a great deal of unearned patience from the listener.
The titular track brings the heat with a funky distorted guitar and slap bass and it lays down a groove that meshes well with the electronic overlay. It’s one of the more salvageable moments, at least until it starts ricocheting all over the place near its end like a photon blast in the Death Star garbage chute. There’s even some sinister laughter in there, if corny vocal manipulation and call-and-response is your bag.
Like previous releases, Six Cups of Rebel offers a few juicy morsels tucked away amidst all the fluff. It’s maddening to recognize the potential that Lindstrøm leaves untapped. He’s not that far off, but he zigs when he should zag, kills the tempo right when he should be cranking it up and (unmercifully) goes on and on. The result is a half-baked and challenging listen that quickly wears out its welcome.