Marius Vareid: Telemark
Full Pupp

The first clue to Telemark's sound is, of course, the Full Pupp label on which it appears. Past experience suggests that Marius Vareid's first solo album will be one more in a series of entrancing “space disco” recordings issued on Prins Thomas's label. If the album turns out to be not quite so easy to pigeonhole, it nevertheless upholds the label's penchant for uplifting melodicism. Vareid draws primarily upon disco and house for the album's ten tracks, though elements of electro, techno, and soul-jazz work their way into his music too, and much of its uplifting tone can be attributed to the music's oft-Balearic spirit.

The album's breezy, summery tone is established from the very beginning when “Regatta” introduces the set with a warm, bossa nova-like swing, and “Skumle Planer” perpetuates the languorous vibe with silken synth washes. They're merely warmups, however, for the wondrous title track, which elevates the album to a higher level in its radiant blend of lush melodies and funk grooves. In this first album standout, Vareid's sound achieves a pristine clarity in its focus on a rich, analog-styled synth quality that's “old school” in the best sense of the term. Many bass lines have the fluid, natural tone of an actual bass guitar rather than a simulated one, and acoustic percussion sounds (triangle, congas, bongos, drums, etc.) are sprinkled liberally across the tracks too. In similar manner, the addition of acoustic piano playing to the otherwise synthetic elements of “Molen” strengthens its timeless feel. Tracks such as “Sang Sil Sala,” “Vallefaret,” and “Jeger” find the Norwegian producer building panoramic settings powered by lithe disco rhythms and sweetened with synthetic sunshowers of melodic counterpoint

A stormy field recording of loon calls and rumble works its way into “Villa Farris,” but for the most part Telemark stays tightly focused on serving up an hour of pure Full Pupp splendour. Vareid began creating material in the 1980s using a Dynachord Tape Echo mixer, a Fender Rhodes Mark I, and two turntables, so his debut solo album has been a long time in the works. Telemark certainly sounds like the work of a seasoned pro.

November 2011