Prins Thomas Principe del Norte Smalltown Supersound
Slowly but surely, Prins Thomas has become an indispensable figure in leftfield dance music. More than a decade ago, the first ripples of the slow, Scandinavian take on ‘cosmic disco’ started making their way across Europe from Oslo. These ripples turned into a wave that never quite peaked in the way that some new sounds and genres do. Instead, the pace and aesthetic of the music plied by Prins Thomas (and a select group of others) has simply seeped into the cultural fabric, and his position as a respected tastemaker grows stronger by the year. For most artists, releasing an album of untitled, ambient ‘tributes’ to early electronic pioneers like The Orb, just months after a three-volume DJ mix playfully satirising the Paradise Garage nightclub might not be the best idea. But with Thomas’ Midas touch, it all makes sense, and the nine tracks of Principe del Norte shimmer and sashay their way through super-sideways Balaeric melodies, and spaced-out crescendos.
While the fluid structure provides plenty of space for Thomas to create in, the album is a little shapeless, and it and doesn’t quite have the effortless and enigmatic appeal of his genre-bending DJ sets. But it is an immersive and often emotive listen, the sound of squinting into the winter sun as time stands still. There are some beautifully unhurried compositions, with extended sections of Four Tet-esque twinkles, glimpses of simmering electronic house and a smattering of downbeat disco. It may prove a little tedious if listened to whole in one sitting, but overall, Principe del Norte is a hushed tour-de-force.
Stream the album here.