If CD III tells us anything about its maker, it’s that Bård Aasen Lødemel is truly chameleonic. The Norwegian producer, who records under the alias Skatebård, has already played the parts of heavy metal drummer, techno and electro producer, and hip hop MC at different points in his career – he even attained local cult status MCing with hip hop group Side Brok. CD III, released 23rd October, isn’t a summary of his past, it’s a separate project undertaken to explore his present musical whims. It’s also an eclectic journey through Europe’s electronic music heritage, referencing everything from krautrock to deep house via disco.
While Skatebård may have started out a metal drummer, there’s little indication of it in CD III, except perhaps in the album’s recurring obsession with percussion. CD III is, at a pinch, a natural continuation from his acclaimed debut album ‘Midnight Magic’, which explored a distinctly italo disco vibe. But CD III is also an evolution, a culmination of European musical ideas that eschews linear genre classifications in favour of a more exploratory bent. It’s whimsical nature is present in the krautrock sounds of opener ‘The Bells of Mist’, which announces itself through subtly layered atmospherics and pulsating Kraftwerk style synthesis. The gently crescendoing percussion and gratifying snares build into a lush chiming bridge. It’s ten minutes of verdant and vibrant sonic jungle – a great remove from his native Norway.
CD III is discrete enough to be an experimental album that’s also contagiously danceable. ‘Donko Donko’ reanimates the kind of disco work Giorgio Moroder was doing for Donna Summer. Its orchestral synths and glitch breakdown bear Moroder’s hallmark innovation, and with it’s thudding four-on-the-floor beat it’s also bound to pique house enthusiasts. Likewise, lead single ‘Farver Flimrer’, out August 28th, seems like the antidote to all the shoddy deep house going on right now. It subtly plays on the tension between electronic and organic music. The surging synths break and recede with regularity, like the ebb and flow of the sea, but it’s never far from delayed notes, synthetic sounds and the encroaching of metropolitan modernity.
Elsewhere, the affirmative strains of ‘Why Not’ recall the maximalism of recent Daft Punk, with its intergalactic laser synth sounds and slow psychedelic phasing. It’s worlds away from the sinister crawling of album closer ‘Loved All Day’ which lurks like a budding leviathan, comprising twelve minutes hinged on a constant droning bass rhythm that’s alternately adorned and stripped stark, making for a dark and sexual debauch.
With CD III Skatebård has become a disco innovator. Sonically it occupies a unique space, and while referencing dance music past and present, it finds its own interpretation of dance music’s future. Skatebård may have been labelled more genres than you could count with your fingers, but listening to his music, you get the sense that they become less and less apt when trying to designate what he really is: an intrepid voyager.