Platebutikken Tiger

Independent record store based in Oslo.
Ships internationally

— Opening Hours —
12 - 17

Hammersborggata 18, 0181 Oslo // +47 47 45 00 89

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On last year's official debut album, Schlungs, Norwegian disconauts Mungolian Jet Set sought to frame their debauched, corpulent psychedelia within snappy, jaunty songs, with mixed results. The problem was partly the sheer number of wacky curveballs, but more crucially, the collective's self-expansive sonic approach was too frequently reined in to allow the indifferent songs to speak, when any listener could have told the group that they were arrangers first and songwriters second. Arriving less than a year later, this follow-up assemblage of new tracks, collaborations, and remixes for other artists can't help seeming corrective, though when what requires correcting is so obvious that just seems like pragmatic good sense. Of course, like any hasty reversal, this opens up its own succession of problems, though perhaps less in the sense of flaws or shortcomings than issues that Mungolian Jet Set still need to work out, a feeling of incompletion to the story at odds with the group's unmistakable production style and the music's readily apparent surface pleasures.The shift is apparent from Mungodelics' first track, a remix of Jaga Jazzist's "Toccata". Built around iridescent, shimmering chime loops, and featuring a starry-eyed, bittersweet central melody reminiscent of Superpitcher, the widescreen instrumental is at once gargantuan in scope and unusually focused, irresistibly sentimental yet utterly serious. As with recent releases from fellow Norwegian Todd Terje, "Toccata" suggests a fascination with the vaguely new age proto-techno of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians and perhaps Manuel Göttsching's E2-E4. It also suggests that Mungolian Jet Set have rediscovered that their maximalist aesthetic is best deployed in the service of depth rather than (or as well as) breadth: While the arrangement may be spare in conception, its shifting layers and vaguely ominous echoing glimmers resemble a magic eye picture, the smallest shifts in emphasis revealing fascinating new vistas. The balance of Mungodelics continues to distance itself from last year's album. At a stretch, "People on Strong Stuff"-- with its unnecessary guitar solo and declamatory, occasionally tuneless vocal somewhere between Jim Kerr and Dave Gahan-- could be a Schlungs outtake, but the groove is sturdier, trackier, a constantly uncoiling web of multi-tiered, syncopated rhythms. Throughout, what largely replaces zaniness is an obsession with build that recalls erstwhile progressive house hero Sasha, and even a restrained tune like the group's remix of Unni Wilhelmsen's "Revolving Door"-- dreamy disco-house redolent of the Meanderthals-- cannot help but spiral upward on ever-unfolding swirls of keyboards and percussion, a rising but never-quite-cresting wave of blissed out introspection.This relative lack of climaxes is startling when compared to the group's past work, giving Mungodelics the feel of deep, shadowy valleys of arrangement finesse, nestled between three brief, glorious peaks. After "Toccata", the next highpoint is "Smells Like Gasoline", a Moroder-esque tech-house tune of metallic synth chords and scintillating echoes that, after four minutes of teasing build, unleashes a house piano vamp of almost melancholy perfection, only to almost immediately subside into eerie dub-techno percolations that unexpectedly revive the early work of German minimal duo MRI, but with added rippling wind chimes. This kind of left-turn does not so much reward as require headphone listening, where you're close enough to the beats that both extraversion and involution register as an enveloping wall of sound. Other settings I've tested, from the car to the living room, allow this music to slip too comfortably into the background for long stretches (something you could never have accused Schlungs of doing, for better or worse), but whereas the nine minutes of "Mung's Picazzo" can sound overstretched and aimless in such environments, a "close reading" can seem almost gripping, the tune's meandering groove taking on the portentous air of a thundercloud always on the verge of bursting.Fittingly, with its closer "The Dark Incal" Mungodelics ascends a third pinnacle that inverts entirely the appeals of its opener, offering up maximalist and shamelessly emotive tribal trance-house reminiscent of Booka Shade's "Mandarine Girl" in both sound and scope, a preposterously grand gesture built out of meticulous details worthy of the North Korean Mass Games. All that is loveable or lamentable in Mungolian Jet Set's music is right here. It's overblown melodrama, and you can see through it if you want to. But why would you want to? - Pitchfork