Studio: West Coast

Given that the term ‘Studio musician' refers to session virtuosi like Steve Khan or Nathan East who play convincingly in any number of styles without sounding entirely faceless, it makes sense that Swedish duo Dan Lissvik and Rasmus Hägg selected ‘Studio' for a band name, given how effortlessly they realize the multi-dimensional range encompassed by West Coast. The six tracks traffic to varying degrees in dub, post-punk, krautrock, funk, post-rock, soul, and African highlife without any particular style dominating the album; more often than not, a given piece segues from one style to another or mixes them up simultaneously. The approach does result in some lack of clarity vis-à-vis band persona, but also feeds into West Coast's rather panoramic presentation. Instrumentally, Studio's sound is a stripped-down guitar-bass-drums amalgam enhanced by occasional synth flourishes and delivered with a live, jam-like feel. A number of songs feature more-than-serviceable vocals (“ West Side ,” “Self Service,” “Origin”), some of which add New Wave and punk flavour to Studio's sound, and they're none the worse for doing so. Though the shorter pieces (like the soulfully swaying “Self Service”) are alluring, the epic tracks make the strongest impression: “Life's a Beach” weaves Balearic beats, pealing guitars, and wind chimes into a seductive seaside evocation, while the sixteen-minute “Out There” seamlessly sails through episodes of slinky punk-funk, celestial euphoria, and dub skank before riding out on a gloriously ecstatic wave that re-unites all of the song's elements together at the end.

November 2007