From our Bay to Norway

A trip beyond space disco through the super sounds of Oslo and San Francisco
Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos
Photo by Alexander Warnow

I hear a new world calling me. It's beeping transmissions from some faraway place in the future and the past where a mysterious craft hovers near calypso rock and choruses of friendly voices — some human, some not — echo or call to each other. It's a free-floating territory charted by someone obsessed with creating and sharing sounds that would otherwise go unheard. Only those with a similar obsession seem to respond to its clarion call.

I hear a new world, so strange and so real. Something tells me this world has ties to Norway and the Bay Area, that it streams from Oslo to San Francisco and back. Along the way it opens doors — some familiar, some not — to unheard-of zones. In Norway it can't help isoutf8g and celebrating a conga rhythm from a vintage Michael Jackson track. It also combines the famous chords of Richard Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra and the roller coaster sensuality of Donna Summer's Giorgio Moroder–produced "I Feel Love" in order to fill and feel space with as much pleasure as possible. In San Francisco it forms warm electronic waves, uses white magic to surf those waves' white diamond tips at midnight, and then wakes up the next morning with a heartbreaking conversational hymn.

I hear a new world, haunting me from beyond the known realms of space disco, the shorthand term writers have applied to the music of Norway's Lindstrøm (who has combined Strauss with Summer), Prins Thomas, and Todd Terje (the aforementioned Jackson mix master). It asks me to explore the songs of San Francisco musicians who offer clues to — and share — those Norwegians' vast and prodigious love of sound and song. It suggests I contact Sorcerer (a.k.a. Daniel Judd) and Hatchback (a.k.a. Sam Grawe), brothers in oceanic melody and rhythm, who have both been remixed by Thomas. It tells me to talk with Dominique Leone, whose gorgeous and deranged pop will soon be released by Lindstrøm on his Feedelity label. It implores that I reach across this small town of super sounds to speak with Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos, who has forged a cluster of electro-Nordic projects in which beauty emerges — with a sunlike glow — from intensity.

I hear a new world, calling me to chart links between musicians in San Francisco and in Norway, to discover that neighboring, unacquainted San Francisco sound makers can share friendships with the same Norwegian musicians. Perhaps this musical passage from Norway to our Bay is pure folly. Perhaps the seaside Northern European kingdom recently voted the most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index doesn't share the same spirit as coastal Northern California. Perhaps the country that remained neutral in World War I and rebelled against insurgent World War II Nazism doesn't have much in common with Bay Area resistance. Perhaps Oslo and San Francisco only share a pocket-size but ferocious love of black metal. I still hear a new world — how can I tell what's in store for me?


Donna Summer has already come and gone on the jukebox of the Van Ness corner bar with the bright yellow sign as Sorcerer's Daniel Judd looks at the cover art for Prins Thomas's Cosmo Galactic Prism (Eskimo). Thomas's epic, oft-resplendent two-CD mix opens with "I Hear a New World," the title track of producer Joe Meek's innovative 1960 exploration of the outer spaces of stereo and studio sound. It then segues into the country twang and power-chord dub of "Devil Weed and Me," by the late-'70s Nashville, Tenn., session-player supergroup Area Code 615. "It's funny that the CD starts that way," Judd says with characteristic almost-sly-or-shy understatement.

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