e reviewed Studio’s Yearbook 1, a compilation which brought together tracks from various 12”s alongside edits and remixes, a few months ago; sadly it’s almost impossible to get hold of. Luckily for you, Studio’s debut album, issued on limited vinyl towards the end of 2006, has now been chucked out on CD. You’ll get it from all the usual places; I certainly did.
Anyway, Studio are Swedish duo Dan Lissvik and Rasmus Hagg, and they play strung-out, “Balearic”-tinged, dance-friendly post-punk. Except that “play” probably isn’t the right word. I’m working on instinct rather than press releases here (Amazon don’t send you them), but I’d imagine that what the Swedes do is “assemble” their strung-out, “Balearic”-tinged, dance-friendly post-punk on a computer. Remember those early CD sleeves with the ADD / AAD / DDD boxes showing whether recording, mixing and mastering were done in analogue or digital? West Coast’s old-fashioned sleeve proudly proclaims DDD.
You could throw Studio in with the current crop of Europeans making dance waves, such as Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, or Digitalism, but you’d be doing the Swedes a disservice; post-punks in the club are far more interesting both sonically and formally than your typical punks in the club. “Out There” will be familiar to anyone who did manage to find Yearbook 1. A fifteen-minute instrumental opus that glides through reggae-tinged post-punk guitar shots, glistening keyboard runs, opaque sheets of ambience, and intricate maps of interlocking rhythmic elements, it sets a high bar for the 40 minutes of shimmering, reverbed, hypnotic, and fabricated (in the best possible way) postpunk / disco that follows.
The rest of the album, surprisingly, doesn’t disappoint. “Self Service” is unnervingly redolent of the second song suite from A.R. Kane’s still excellent “i”, guitars and drum machines complemented by piano stabs and synthesised steel drums, plus vocal wails not a million miles from Rudi Tambala’s honeyed but fracture-riddled voice. It’s probably the hookiest, straightest ‘pop’ song on the album. The guitars at four minutes and twenty-four seconds into “Origin” are simply fucking awesome, sitting atop the groove happily, coloring dirtily into the edges of the soundspace. “Life’s a Beach” reveals what the occasional “Balearic” adjectives are getting at, with its warmly pulsing groove, echoing guitars, take-your-time progression, and “Mmmm Skyscraper I Love You”-esque falling bass-synth runs, all collapsing into (literal) tidal swells and glissando curtains.
There’s a little bit of dub, a smidgen of Krautrock, a whole lot of post-punk, and more than a touch of disco and early ‘90s British and European dance pop in West Coast, all handled beautifully and coalescing into something that, if not unique, is certainly laden with enough individual character as to stand out. Studio’s debut album is one of the best of both 2006 and 2007.