tudio’s Yearbook 1 plucks a bouquet of old sounds from the sonic ether and arranges them in a pleasing array of melodic and rhythmic shapes. Cribbing together alternately dubby and Krautrock-y beats, the Swedish duo has endowed hipster-friendly stoner music with a catchy melodicism not unlike Fonal’s Shogun Kunitoki. They’ve arranged the New Age, New Wave, and World clichés to the point where every synth line sticks out and every exotic instrumental flourish seems necessary. Studio doesn’t seem too concerned with brevity—almost all tracks break the five-minute mark, and two are longer than twelve minutes—but every song seems barely long enough.
Some of the growing blog-buzz surrounding Yearbook 1 points out Studio’s similarity to another long-winded composer, Manuel Göttsching. Lately, it seems like Göttsching’s pre-electro space funk has been popping up all over, from emerging artists like Kathy Diamond to the DFA’s James Murphy. Always the artistic opportunist, Murphy agreed to make LCD Soundsystem’s Nike Original Run mix 45:33 chiefly because he saw it as an opportunity to make a record like E2-E4. After the Krautrock renaissance of the early Noughties, when it seemed everyone was getting back into Neu!, Studio have come along when the later stuff, from the disco-blues of Ashra to the sprightly post-Kraut of latter-day Klaus Dinger, has come into the spotlight.
Listeners have to wait a while to hear the connection, though: Yearbook 1’s opener, “No Comply,” kicks off sounding like it came straight off an Aztec Camera or Kajagoogoo record—a pop anthem close to six minutes long. The pulsing beats and fuzzy guitar solos of Ashra’s Correlations don’t develop until the extended outro, after which they’ll come to unify Yearbook. Meanwhile, when the catchy vocal tracks like the loping “Origin (Shake You Down by the River)” are featured, they emerge as the genial spokespeople of Studio’s multiple personality disorder.
But “Out There,” a sixteen-minute instrumental opus, is the album’s centerpiece, layering all manner of old tricks on top of another. Unified by hypnotic bass and drum lines, the track spends the first seven minutes as a chugging kraut-rocker, then steps down to half-time spacey dub for the second act. High-pitched guitars and synths slash through the repetitive rhythms, mixing in Göttsching’s dueling melodies like supposedly casual affectations.
Yearbook 1 sounds like a blast: a sunny little beach party with friends and a little doob. But by the time the closer “Indo” rolls around, these guys need a break. Conceptually fatigued by the first sixty minutes (and probably expecting the same of the listener), they gently come down off the album’s stylistic ping-pong match with a meditative guitar riff. A weary distillation of the album, “Indo” is a spring mix of drone, dub, rock, and ambient that carefully steers away from any one scene. With their fresh takes on these styles, Studio are closer to cultivating their own little scene.