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Diskjokke - Sagara

Smalltown Supersound

Diskjokke returns with his third album and with it, eschews the modern disco-tinged flavourings of past releases in favour of a conceptual album that for the most part is beatless. The album had its genesis in an all expenses paid commission by the Norwegian festival Øya to go anywhere in the world to create music with local musicians and Diskjokke, known as Joachim Dyrdahl to the taxman, decided on the city of Bandung in Java. Spending two weeks in the studio of the Sambasunda gamelan group, he recorded everything from traditional Javanese instruments to field recordings of the city noise and pieced together the album back in Oslo.

It’s fair to say that describing the resulting LP would mean some heavy use of the Sigur Rós Handbook of Adjectives with ambient soundscapes the order of the day. ‘Golotrok’ opens with a singular organ before a throbbing bass comes in to create a rhythm that is overlaid with a variety of percussive elements and synths. The next four tracks follow a similar formula with rhythms alluded to through the use of pulsating synths & looped field recordings rather than implicitly created through the traditional medium of drums. The restrictive instrumentation of casual keys, indigenous Javanese percussion and soft synths creates an airy yet somewhat tense ambience.

Dyrdahl’s patience finally snaps on closer ‘Panutup’ where chiming keys and samples are lifted by the introduction at the halfway point of a bassline and a 4/4 drumbeat that sends the track hurtling towards club territory and the stylings of fellow Scandinavian Kleerup. With this surprising injection of energy, it feels like the shackles of the concept have come off and there is a certain disappointment when the track, and ergo the album, ends as soon as it literally finds its groove.

At six tracks and just 35 minutes long, it begs to be read as one continuous piece with the cross-pollination of sounds and instruments contributing to this feeling. This isn’t a weighty tome in terms of aural density with it reading more as a postcard, rather than a letter, to the exotic land that inspired him. There’s little here to suggest that this album has been nothing more than a creative detour although it is an interesting yet fleeting diversion none the less. 

Paul Fanning

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