Published Apr 02, 2019Since pioneering what many music journalists in the early 2000s referred to as "space disco" with fellow countryman Lindstrøm, Norway's Prins Thomas (born Thomas Moen Hermansen) has been a reliable source of his own unique brand of cosmic exploration, often opting for more open-ended (and long), Krautrock-inspired wanderings, as opposed to the punchier, more explicitly dance-oriented styles of his contemporaries.
While still disco-adjacent, Thomas's music is often more about gentle drifting than bodies moving. His sixth album, Ambitions, continues to refine this style, offering up a tighter, more focused version of his sometimes sprawling tendencies. Although some may miss his more esoteric touches, this feels like the natural evolution.
That's not to say Thomas has discarded his taste for scale; there are two ten-minute-plus journeys lodged in the center of this album that will definitely satisfy those looking to get lost for a while — the title track opens with almost seven minutes of blissed-out, impeccably layered polyrhythms, for instance. "Fra Miami til Chicago" is probably the better of the two epic tracks here though, a darkly pulsing affair full of trickling delay effects, and a chiming, elliptical melody not unlike the work of German producer Tim Engelhardt.
Of the rest of the album, "Feel the Love" will likely get the most casual plays. A bouncing disco affair featuring a breezy female vocal sample, it's probably the closest thing to a proper single Thomas has released, and it's nice to hear him reigning things in a little. Other highlights include the Air-esque funk lite of "XSB" (which demonstrates that expert pacing can just as easily be found in short, as opposed to long-form, composition), and penultimate track "Urmannen," which surprises with a gorgeous synth lead halfway through before dissolving into a sparkling bed of analogue flourishes.
Ambitions seems like a positive development for Thomas, a streamlining of things that nonetheless keeps his talents front and centre. It should satisfy long-time fans, but it's probably best-suited as an introductory album for newcomers, distilling the essence of what makes Prins Thomas albums great while minimizing some meandering and unwieldy tendencies. (Smalltown Supersound)