Bjørn Torske

Kokning

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It's hard to know what to expect from a new Bjørn Torske release -- apart from featuring playful, eclectic, highly musical and engaging electronica, none of the first three albums the Norwegian producer has released under his own name (issued over a ten-year span) sounded all that much like one another, and the range of sounds and styles he'll explore within a single album has only magnified as he's branched out farther and farther beyond the comparatively conventional, downtempo house of his mid-'90s work as Ismistik. To that end, the curious and delightful Kokning is a wonderful non-surprise, introducing some fine new elements to Torske's mixing table while also revisiting familiar territory and very much maintaining the endearingly offbeat, slightly impish spirit that has persisted throughout his career. Continuing a gradual trend, this is by far Torske's most organic-feeling album; most of its sounds are derived from instruments and other objects recorded acoustically in various spaces, creating a rich, undeniably warm textural palette. It's also his most clearly structured set, opening with a trio of lush, largely acoustic, genially mellow pieces focused on an assortment of guitar textures -- the hazy ambient pop of the title track, the playful Reich-ian polyphony of "Bryggesjau," and the gorgeously drifting, folk-tinged sweetness of "Gullfjellet" -- before transitioning, via a short, polyrhythmic hand percussion interlude, to a second, much longer segment of beat-oriented tracks. This asymmetrical second half functions like its own separate entity; perhaps -- to take a cue from the album's title, which translates as "boiling" or just "cooking," but refers more specifically to a Norwegian tradition of putting potatoes on to boil before heading out to catch the fish to accompany them -- as the meat of the musical meal after an ambient appetizer. The menu features a pair of pensive, percolating, midtempo burners and the growling goof "Versjon Wolfenstein," a throwback to the dub reggae experiments of Feil Knapp, but best of all are two fabulous bookending disco excursions: the deliciously funky roller-skating jam "Bergensere," complete with lasers, fog machines, and handclaps, and, for dessert, the lavishly extended "Furu," a full-on space-disco odyssey with a burbling, horny bassline and plenty of kitchen-sink percussion. This last track, in particular, is highly redolent of compatriots and colleagues like Diskjøkke, Lindstrøm, Idjut Boys, and Rune Linbaek, but it's a healthy reminder that Torske's been doing this stuff as long as any of them, and longer than most. Here he's prepared us yet another fine feast. Tuck in!

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