Revivals aren’t unusual, in music or in other areas of culture. Rarer is the revival that goes beyond nostalgia and sets itself up to be eventually revived in its own right. I keep seeing the phrase “Balearic” used in different ways, so let’s be clear: For our purposes, the term refers to a late-1980s style linked to Ibiza, where clattering acid house had given way among some DJs to a mellower, more eclectic mindset that made room for extended Cure remixes and Italo-house krautrock appropriations—and Chris Rea’s soft-rock guitar workout “Josephine”. But the scene was never limited to Spain, and by the mid- to late ’00s a Balearic revival had taken hold, much of it centered in Scandinavian groups, not least of them a Gothenburg-based duo known as Studio.
Dan Lissvik, aka Atelje, was one half of Studio. What he accomplished with collaborator Rasmus Hägg around that time, especially on 2006’s West Coast (and 2007’s somewhat-overlapping Yearbook 1 compilation), looms larger now that we’ve had some years to see how singular it was. You can spot traces of their aesthetic, musically and visually, in minimalist electronic producer Nicolas Jaar’s work with guitarist Dave Harrington as Darkside, and you can find other cosmic guitar instrumentalists not unlike Lissvik, most notably former Emeralds member Mark McGuire. But Studio had a particular way of blending largely Balearic elements and exploring them, sometimes at great length, while also maintaining enough sly conceptual unity, enough tunefulness, for easy first-impression appeal. Last year, in a measure of Studio’s enduring influence, Jamie xx sampled West Coast/Yearbook 1‘s “Out There” for his “Girl” single.
Lissvik has stayed busy, but Studio called it quits and shut down their label, Information, at the beginning of 2012. That farewell was part of a broader moment of closure for the scene: Air France, who took a more Saint Etienne– and Avalanches-leaning approach toward the Balearic idea, broke up not long after, and Service, the Gothenburg label that nurtured Studio and others in the early ’00s, gave up the ghost in January 2013. Since 2008’s Yearbook 2, a comp containing Studio reworkings of other artists’ songs, Hägg has done production for gut-wrenching Swedish singer-songwriter El Perro Del Mar, and in 2013 he told an interviewer he’d lost four to five solo albums in a burglary. Lissvik has been the more publicly prolific, showcasing his Vini Reilly-goes-to-warmer-climes instrumentals on a late-2008 solo album as D. Lissvik, 7 Trx + Intermission, and teaming up with Fredrik Lindson of fellow Service alums the Embassy for a charmingly low-key 2009 LP as the Crêpes—that is, when not producing for the likes of CEO and Taken by Trees, or remixing everyone from Fever Ray to Haim.
Meditation is the most Studio-like full-length we’ve heard from Lissvik since his former band. That not-quite-reggae lope is back, along with hypnotic yet lyrical guitar repetitions, dubwise bass, and Nordic space-disco synths. As ever with Balearic, part of the formula is that there is no formula, as seen in the twinkling piano on the album’s bookends “Ode to Studio” and “Awake” (the latter with strummy acoustic guitar). And those Studio-era yearning vocals are long gone. Still, when the LP gets into a cosmic groove, especially on side B’s percolating “Everslick” or its gentle, piano-sprinkled comedown “Transition”, the effect recalls the Balearic revival at its peak. Considering, again, that the title of the opening track is “Ode to Studio”, that might not be an accident.
Back-to-roots moves can be a bit hackneyed in rock, or at the very least seen as a bit of a retreat, but I don’t get that sense here. It might help to remember that the original Balearic beat was as much about context as content: Rea’s “Josephine” or, to take a Studio-remixed example, Kylie Minogue‘s “2 Hearts” belongs not because it was necessarily supposed to but simply because it can. Meditation plays as a thoroughly absorbing meditation on—or ode to—Studio, and it works because it does; there’s still nothing else quite like this. With only 300 copies pressed, most of us probably won’t be able to own the LP on vinyl, and at slightly more than half an hour, Lissvik doesn’t quite get a chance to stretch out the way Studio could. But there’s reason to hope for at least at least a personal musical revival: Diehard watchers of Studio will know Lissvik has shared 50 tracks, as Archive, on his SoundCloud, and a tantalizing new solo single, “Airwalk” b/w “Shuvit”, is on the way in February via Smalltown Supersound. As Lissvik wrote when Studio ended, “See you in another shape and form.”
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1AOxAe3