Review – Bjarno takes us deep into the Scandinavian disco

Artist : Bjarno
Title : Papillion
Label : Music For Dreams
Release : 26th February 2016
Genre : Electronic

New on Kenneth Bager’s brilliant Music For Dreams imprint is this mesmerising album from Danish sensation Lars Bjarno. A stalwart of the Danish scene for over 10 years, he’s been involved with Ben Horn, Def Jaguar, Flip and most notably Djuma Soundsystem. His trademark style is a laid back, warm and organic blend of deep techy sounds, with a dash of disco. Cleverly, MFD has released 3 EPs and a single from the album to test the waters, and as Lars explains, that experiment was pretty successful:

“I’ve been in bands before, but this was the first time I tried to work completely on my own, trusting yourself to make the right decisions can be scary, I struggled a bit in the beginning, was the music good enough etc. fortunately the reception of the tracks has been good, the first single stayed on the Beatport chill top 100 for 9 months reassuring me that I was on the right path. I would love to work some more with other Danish Producers such as Budda of Lulu Rouge fame or BE : Svendsen to name a few, there are so much talent in Denmark at the moment” – Bjarno

Indeed, Scandinavia has become something of a haven for artists with a soulful heart like Lars, and the music produced belies the cold and harsh climate they inhabit, and presents images of sun drenched beaches and endless summers, like opening tracks and personal favourites of Lars’. ‘Factor 30’ warms the listener with delicate Flamenco guitar licks and a lazy house beat. Its very like the stuff Klik were doing in the mid 00s, and exude hope and positivity. Rubbing shoulders with it is the equally restrained and beautiful ‘Am Fenster’ with its nagging Rhodes hook reminding me of hazy times listening to an old Gorillaz album.

Artist albums are best when they explore genres, styles and techniques you don’t always associate them with. ‘Bagatelle (For a Friend)’ is one such detour. Disco and Balearic in equal measures, the level of detail and thought here instantly draws me in, as does the ambience of ‘Birds & Drones’: like an unused soundtrack to some futuristic movie never made.

“All the tracks were written last summer in an explosion of creativity and self discipline, “Birds And Drones” took a while to finish though, somehow I couldent get the length of the track and the bass line to work as I imagined it, but I think I finaly got it right and hopefully the track can transport you to another place.” – Bjarno

‘Coming Home’ ups the tempo, and is the albums real crowd pleaser. With the pedigree Lars has, its no surprise the level of polish this track has, its simply light years away from the cookie cutter deep house everyones making and playing these days. This is soulful, thoughtful deepness, and by the time the vocal hits, I’m pretty much hypnotised. ‘Crumbs’ which follows has big shoes to fill, and it steps up to the challenge with the swagger of a blonde haired boy at a school disco. Guitar licks and harmonium sit pleasingly atop sculpted beats and skippy percussion. Top tune.

When ‘Moon Walking’ started, I thought I had the tracks mixed up and Bjarno had remixed ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack! Soon though a deeply satisfying disco soundtrack comes in to ear shot like the love child of Prins Thomas and Funkadelic. I loved the deep Juno 60 bass of ‘Moving Clouds’. It really hits home surrounded by the cowbell led percussion, and is possibly the most up tempo track on the album. ‘Muskrat’ is also a delight. Any track which can combine field recording, weird Sci Fi sounds and a twisted synth which continually mutates through out, deserves respect.

Soulful house cut ‘Run to You’ takes a leaf out of the French sound mid 90s. Smooth, sophisticated and devilishly enticing, it sets up the finale of the album brilliantly. ‘You Make My Heart Sing’ is distilled passion in a 9 minute opus. Its the sort of track you imagine Larry Levan finishing one of his marathon sets with where everyone on the dance floor is a quivering wreck, hugging and kissing each other as the emotion of it all becomes too much to bare. It had this grizzly, grumpy old raver smiling from ear to ear!

The deeper disco sound which Scandinavia had briefly become popular with lives on in the hearts of artists like Bjarno. Glitter balls and flairs aside, its great to see and hear new music which harks from a golden era of dance, given new life to a new generation. Come the summer, this album will be getting some serious airplay from me, and if you have ears and taste, you too. Its simply amazing.

Tracks
Factor 30
Am Fenster
Bagatelle (For A Friend)
Birds & Drones
Coming Home (Silver Tongue)
Crumbs
Moon Walking
Moving clouds
Muskrat
Run To You
You Make My Heart Sing