Drivan

Disko

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AllMusic Review by

Norwegian producer Kim Hiorthøy has a knack for cobbling together small scraps of sound and melody in a careful but seemingly arbitrary fashion that can make the simple and familiar seem oddly curious and make the coarse and unexpected feel innocently sweet. Disko, the first output from Drivan -- a group consisting of Hiorthøy and three female performance artists who serve here primarily as vocalists and co-architects -- is the least overtly electronic recording he has been involved in, although most of its tracks do feature his typically low-key, rough-hewn, hip-hop-styled beats for at least a portion of their running time. For the most part, the album uses the melodic but not particularly song-based linear structures familiar from his solo work. Tracks tend to build from a basic rudimentary riff, melody, or chord progression, typically picked out on acoustic guitar or a slightly out of tune piano, with the vocals -- exclusively in Swedish, usually solo or in unison, and tending toward a plain, uninflected tone that sometimes takes on a childlike, singsong cast -- layered on top. Beats filter in and out, tracks develop and disintegrate in fluid but unpredictable ways, and Hiorthøy tacks on little bits of incidental noise and sonic detritus: the ambient sounds of talking, laughing, scuffling of papers; spectral, unidentified samples of this and that; whistling and squeaking electronic toys and synthetic strings and cheap-sounding keyboard organ solos. There's one clear standout and centerpiece in the six-minute "Det Gör Ingenting," which is the fullest-sounding and most melodically compelling piece here, its sweetly hypnotic throb suggesting an epic, pulsating dance track as performed by children, or heard from several rooms away through slightly worn-out speakers. (It's the only time the album comes close to the danceability suggested by its devious title, though it's still probably a bit too mellow for that.) Otherwise, it's all gently shambolic, mildly folky, slightly inscrutable, and generally quite likable. One gets the sense that Hiorthøy and his cohorts could easily continue turning out these strange, sweet, and satisfying songs in similar fashion for quite some time, if they so chose, and it would be hard to complain if they did.

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