Cosmos album cover
Cosmos

Skatebård

2008
Digitalo Enterprises

Bård Aasen Lødemel is, oddly enough, something of a hip-house practitioner, establishing his club DJ rep as Skatebård concurrently with his membership in the Norwegian rap group Side Brok. That might not necessarily make him Norway’s answer to Arabian Prince, but it does at least hint at how hard it is to box him in — a hint that Cosmos provides a pretty definitive answer to. At a time when most of his peers were waxing Balearic and mellow, Cosmos, ironically enough, is one of the less kosmische highlights to emerge from his scene’s orbit, playing up the electro and Italo sides of house and space disco instead. But in retrospect it sounds like a bridge between the electroclash hangover and the synthwave boom that doesn’t fully commit to either aesthetic, and feels more timeless than trendy as a result. “Into the Crypt of Rays” anticipates the John Carpenter-oid palpitating arpeggios and decadent menace of the Hotline Miami neon-palm-tree aesthetic by a few years, but that’s just the most distinct point on an album that tends to blur its vibes into an agreeably impressionistic atmosphere. The title of “June Nights South of Siena” might place its locale in Tuscany, but the sound shifts from ’80 Milan to ’87 Chicago to ’97 Paris from its ’08 Bergen perspective. Midtempo cuts like the fidgety, rippling Afro-ambient “Marimba” and the pop-lock noir of “Early Morning” tread the fine line between dancefloor energy and afterparty comedown that sinks lesser grooves into stasis; here they’re elevated by a subtle sense of rhythmic interplay that refuses to let the momentum flag. And his range of anthemic bangers is sweeping — you could just as easily picture the spacious bounce of “React 2 Rhythm” as the realm of early Basement Jaxx siphoned through Kompakt’s spacious minimalism as you could trace the lineage of “Gamle furutrær” from ’80s synthpop and Hi-NRG through the dynamics of skybound progressive house.

Nate Patrin

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