Published Oct 09, 2019After 2017's relatively safe It's Alright Between Us As It Is, Norwegian synth master Hans-Peter Lindstrøm returns with the very different On a Clear Day I Can See You Forever. Inspired by ideas he pursued in a commissioned piece for the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Norway's premiere art centre, where he performed the piece with over 30 synthesizers and drum machines), it's an experimental and largely improvised album made up of four long, open-ended tracks that will appeal mostly to those with an ear for vintage hardware (the list of synths he used at the HOK is really something else). Fans of his tighter, more focussed dance tracks should give this one a wide berth, however.
The title track starts things off, a spacey, minimalist, ten-minute Memorymoog odyssey that sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's perhaps a tad self-indulgent, but there's pleasure to be had in hearing the instrument explored by someone who respects it as profoundly as Lindstrøm clearly does, especially in the fat, low ends that he sometimes coaxes from it. Followup "Really Deep Snow" is probably the most structured of the batch, featuring a repeated refrain over a signature Lindstrøm arpeggio, the latter fading in and out of the background hypnotically.
"Swing Low Sweet LFO" features more shimmering arps and analogue noodling before closing with a minute-and-a-half of warm, churchy melodies (inspired by a half-remembered childhood psalm according to the artist), and final cut "As If No One Is Here" explores some drone ideas before ending on some appealingly warm, almost jazzy chords.
One could uncharitably suggest that Lindstrøm is indeed playing as though no one is here on this album, performing for his own amusement rather than the sustained enjoyment of the listener. Perhaps that would be missing the point of On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever, but as rich and resonant as some of these synth tones are, it's ultimately an album that's more conceptually interesting than it is musically appealing. (Smalltown Supersound)