Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Diskjokke - Staying In
With two singles out on Prins Thomas' Full Pupp label, two more on Get Physical sub-imprint Kindish, and now, a debut LP on Smalltown Supersound, the 27-year-old Norwegian producer Joachim Dyrdahl (a.k.a. diskJokke) is building an impressive CV. But there's more to diskJokke than bulletproof connections; his spacey electro-disco is technically impressive and effortlessly appealing. It's rife with surgically straight percussion, oil-slick synths, bouncy bass, and eerie almost-vocal melodies-- warm sounds with plenty of frigid antimatter, courtesy of judicious effects and pan envelopes, seething between them. Like his countryman Lindstrøm, who came to dance music from a non-dance background, diskJokke studied classical violin and mathematics before turning to beats. The former is evident in his music's sweeping lyricism; the latter, in its cleanly schematized structures.
When we talk about going out, we mean going in-- to a nightclub, restaurant, theater, or other dim enclosure. The background template of diskJokke's MySpace-- a hammock stretched between palm trees before a huge blue sky-- suggests an entirely different listening environment for his music. When he talks about staying in, he means going out, in both senses of the phrase. His tracks are equally suited to the close air of clubs and the breezy expanses of the great outdoors, working in deft juxtapositions of the earthly with the alien. The title track's tropical cheer is tailored for a seaside stroll, with burbling hand percussion and a bright melody that evokes timpani runs. But when these peter out to fully reveal the ice-cold synth dollops coagulating beneath them, it's like an unearthly stillness descending as a UFO suddenly lands in the dunes. The same trick is repeated on the tortuously titled "I Was Go To Marrocco and I Don't See You": At first, it's claustrophobic, with a bass line like a big rubber ball bouncing frantically around a small room, but the walls crumble imperceptibly until they suddenly fall away. Then the stars come out, and we drift up through the ceiling.
This sense of vertical motion is crucial to diskJokke's music. Different kinds of techno evoke different kinds of movement: Clark's Turning Dragons is a runaway Tilt-A-Whirl, while Pantha Du Prince's This Bliss hang-glides through the Aurora Borealis. On "Folk I Farta", diskJokke is a glass-elevator operator bearing the listener upward through discrete levels of architecture: first floor, Glassian piano runs spinning gyroscopically across stereo channels. Second floor, prizefighting drums. Third floor, synths like Native-American flutes and harmonic washes. Fourth floor, overdriven counter-melody; fifth, drum and bass break. Sixth and final stop-- everything at once, duh. "Folk I Farta" is a good example of a track that's set up so well, anything except a predictable finale would be disappointing. Sometimes, diskJokke builds more chutes and ladders into his music: "Større Enn Først Antatt" feints where "Folk I Farta" steadily ascends. But either way, at the end of each track, the listener seems to have climbed somethingvery high, through thick undergrowth, to emerge in the cold, thin air. - Brian Howe,PF