Blackbelt Andersen: Blackbelt Andersen
Full Pupp

Having been thoroughly won over in late 2008 by Full Pupp's Greatest Tits Vol. 1 compilation, I was hoping I'd be just as impressed by Daniel “Blackbelt” Andersen's eponymous debut album—and I am. That the material's excellent won't come as news to those who've already sampled the five cuts that already appeared as singles on the Claremont 56 and Norway-based Full Pupp labels, but for many the ten-track CD will be their first exposure to this recent addition to Prins Thomas's roster. A major presence in the Norway dance music scene, Anderson's also apparently well known for his deep love of death metal but you won't hear any of that here. Instead, Blackbelt Andersen serves up an ultra-tasty smorgasbord of synthesizer-heavy dance music that's heavily indebted to Detroit techno and Giorgio Moroder-styled disco.

Assembled into a non-stop travelogue, the seventy-four-minute collection opens rather unassumingly with “Lørdag Del 1,” a bucolic overture which spotlights Andersen's clear affection for bright analog synthesizer sounds. Gentle washes unfurl while synth squeals dart in multiple directions and an anchoring bass pattern pulsates in vintage kosmische musik fashion. It's a promising start but nowhere near as spectacular as the space-funk anthem that follows, “Søndag,” which tops off its arpeggiated bass line, slinky disco hi-hats, and spacey synthesizers with cowbell. “Sirup” spices up its samba-tinged acid-house with Latin percussion (congas, cymbals) while “Nattmanøver,” “Ditråit,” “Sandoz,” and “November” spread creamy keyboards over pulsating bases that are as blissful as a summer day. Judging by the interplanetary whooshes and shimmering synth stabs that billow across its “I Feel Love” bass line, “Kuk Av Stål” certainly sounds as if it's setting its controls for the heart of the sun. If there's anything Anderson might want to consider for the next go-round, it would be to rein in his tendency to let tracks stretch out to excess (many run longer than seven minutes and two stretch out for nine and ten minutes). There's little to complain about otherwise. Call it “cosmic disco,” “space funk,” the “ Oslo sound,” “Scandinavian disco,” or whatever else you like. Labels don't matter when music's this splendid.

March 2009