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Prins Thomas - Cosmo Galactic Prism

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Artist: Prins Thomas

Album: Cosmo Galactic Prism

Label: Eskimo

Review date: Oct. 16, 2007

Prins Thomas is best known for his collaborations with Lindstrøm, coaxing the fellow Norwegian away from the disco-dizzy dancefloor and into a wood-paneled headspace buzzing with balmy grooves and soft-focus moods. If that was Thomas' contribution to the growing glut of Balearic simulations, then the expansive Cosmo Galactic Prism is perhaps its appendix. It stands against Thomas' prior pastiches as a dazzling bounty of primary sources.

A dazzling sprawl, Cosmo Galactic Prism finds Thomas playing cartographer. He fluidly maps a reclaimed sonic terrain shaped by analog man-machine mediation – kit rhythms or at least their likeness, dial-twisting frequencies and hand-plucked/pressed strings and keys. Opening with the trebly wobble of Joe Meek and the Blue Men's still eerie "I Hear a New World," a classic of homemade exotica with helium-voiced aliens and a rockabye rhythm, disc one promptly and gently transports us to a pre-techno past of tape trickery and cumbersomely-constructed FX. For its first 20 minutes or so, Thomas' synthetic savanna, lush and crackling with little fits of activity, inspires repose. When Holgar Czukay's "Cool in the Pool” pops up, in all of its bouncy radio-dial Dada effervescence, it startles not only with its jolly bop but also the al fresco cheer it imbues.

Thomas tones down the bustle and turns up the humidity with the soggy percolations of Bjørn Torske's "Soloppgang Over Yukigaya." But with The Unabombers' smudgy remix of The Electric South's "Sing,” an orgy of diva wails and piano stabs smeared by modulator fuzz, Thomas thrusts Cosmo Galactic Prism into a red-eyed blear. The tension of Finzy Kontini's crushed-aluminum Casio pads, insanely gated snare crashes and hand-triggered samples is somewhat relieved by the cop show closing credit swells of Musique's "Summer Love Theme." Though it lingers in a tip-toeing spiral of staccato strings, the track explodes into a horn-blasted whirl. Thomas swerves away from the chrome-coated throb and ice-cube clinks of contemporary electronic music. Instead, he pilots straight into Roman Flugel's Soylent Green, a vertiginous, depth-smooshing overlay of crinkling rhythms and slurping Moogs, which spills into the trebly sci-fi transmissions of Board of Canada's "Nlogax" and laser-glided orbit of Lindstrøm's woozy, gushing "Another Station." From this triptych of electro-fantasy, Thomas turns to Japanese duo Metalchicks whose "Tears For Fears" slip on a slick of synth plasma to land on a spiderweb of strummed chords which hardens into "Conspiracy,” frizzy blazes of Marshall-stack fury. Far from the digital interleaving of today's mixscapes, Thomas lets much of Cosmo Galactic Prism slip out of synch both in terms of tempo and texture. From Metalchicks we turn to Waltz's "Folkesata" – a flapping acoustic guitar morphs alongside a steadily muffled thump and, jarringly, sirens – and closes on the exhaust-fume drowse of Hawkwind's modulator-marbled "City of Lagoons."

Disc two revs into motion with the tight boom and tremble of Visandi's Korg-splotched "Racing Trax (Le Mans Race Mix)” followed by tribal spirals of Uusi Fantasia. Bob James' "Moonbop" finds a sprightly guitar, flashing its distorted shield when threatened, living in a bush of computer ghosts. After all the interlocking rhythms and multi-exposure activity, Axer's "123" is a mainline transfusion of concentrated energy. For a few seconds, its plasmic synth blobs alone, a charcoal detail against vaporous greyscape of erasures. Though its thump evokes snare/hi-hat interplay, the beat has a slick, granularly synthesized sheen that lets all the detail slip away and hang suspended. Interestingly, Thomas doesn't capitalize on this quasi-banger. He lets it slip back into the blackness from which it sprang, as Dubarachnoid Trim's "Perfumed Garden" lull the listener into its pocket of quiet, flickering agility.

Twinkling pats on wood keep a pitter-patter rhythm as an acoustic guitar charts chords and pursues tangents and a clipped, crunchy beat dribbles a hole leading to Matias Aguayo's titatinium-gurgling "Radiotaxi,” the stuttering lines and soul dashes of Isolee's Reclose remix, and the dulcet Christmas light twinkles of Closer Musik. Thomas ably navigates these tributaries of liquid aluminum up the Hudson for some cosmic pulsewaves and carburetor tug. Though new, Zombi's "Sapphire,” like many of Thomas' present-day picks, proudly reclaims cheesy deep space legacy. Pretty soon, we're back at Thomas' jungle of voodoo drums and barbed electricity. The Honeymoon Killers' "Décollage" is composite post-punk pop in the Lizzy Mercier Descloux mutant Caribbean mold: elastic bass, Shiva-armed percussion and brass peps sheathing scratchy guitar jabs. A protracted interplanetary battle sequence unfurls, rayguns blasting, from Tres Demented's "She'z Satan" through Musicccargo's "Ich Geh Den Weg Mit Dir" but the film slips from the sprockets as a different mix of Visnadi's "Racing Trax" fades in and the beats skew, warp and putter out. We're left with ten-minutes-plus of disco concentrate: The Paper Dolls "Get Down Boy". A hissy hi-hat phases subtly with a bass bobs around gummy percolation in a taut lock-groove; eventually zizagging strings and spectral divas chant a refrain. Disco luxuriance sliced paper-thin, it sends Cosmo Galactic Prism out on a slightly phantasmic tone. But a coda emerges. Slowly fading in, the slithery crawl of Parliament's "Night of the Thumpasorus Peoples,” wah-wah wafts, modulator goo, interlaced horns, suggests nearby quadrant where the party may still be raging. But Thomas flicks off the map and the coordinates are lost. To continue the astral adventure, it seems, the listener must now venture out alone.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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