Sunkissed: Mix by G-Ha and Olanskii
had trouble understanding my Stylus colleagues’ lack of love for Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas’ self-titled space-disco opus. It seemed to leave folks a little cold, even though its tight, mannered productions and wood grain cover art seemed charming byproducts of its Norwegian birthplace. This manner of dance (maybe dance) electronic music has coalesced into a scene of sorts, championed by Lindstrøm’s own Feedelity Affair and, somewhat bizarrely, Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas’ more popular remix of their collaboration. Sunkissed, a Smalltown Supersound mix by G-Ha and Olanskii named after a club night in Oslo, serves to highlight it.
Sunkissed, unsurprisingly, chases after all the signifiers and whistles employed by its biggest names—tastefully applied cowbell, echo-laden sequencer runs, and wide-screen synths are the order of the day. Star Trek jokes are occasionally made and kept to oneself. The mix opens oddly with Kosmische edit of Serena Maneesh—a rock band whose only connection to the scene would appear to be their Oslo mailing address—that grumbles along by beefing up the track’s sixteenth-note bass and its circular drum break. Smalltown’s 120 Days provide the mix’s only other rock track with “Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone (Metal Overdrive Mix)” in which Mental Overdrive meld the group’s J. Spacemen’s addict vox to a venomous motorik beat, an exciting combination but a little overaggressive given the rest of Sunkissed’s selections.
Sunkissed makes plenty of time, though, for more classic space-disco sounds; most of the rest of its 80-minute runtime is devoted to spry electro that toes the line between the dance floor and the living room. Standouts include the plodding, whole grain funk of Wekan’s “Brownbred (Kango’s Stein Massiv Remix)” and the atrium disco of Bjørn Torske’s “Hatten Passer.” Lindstrøm sounds regal and assured on his rendering of Telex’s “Do Worry.” Thomas turns up as well, offering his “Diskomiks” of Crue-L Grand Orchestra’s “Psycho Piano,” a five-and-a-half minute odyssey of sequencer bliss that settles into the simplest of 4/4 bass lines.
Where Sunkissed succeeds as a document of an interesting sub-genre it fails as a mix, though. It is, for the most part, a deeply unambitious set of four- and five-minute tunes of similar tempo and composition nominally strung together. And, with all the necessary caveats about how this music often succeeds when it is measured and restrained, it is a mix that never really builds or peaks. You’d probably be right to point out that Sunkissed was never meant for the clubs, but whether intentional or not, there is something draining about a mix as level and sane as Sunkissed, one that not only never achieves, but seemingly never attempts to achieve, euphoria. Stereotypes about Scandinavian cleanliness and simplicity would be too easy, but, well, yeah. Sunkissed is a modest primer or a diehard’s shelf-stuffer, but its too-similar textures and repetitions make it a reminder of its artists’ superior material for most of us.