From our Bay to Norway - Page 4

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

While discussing his love for the analog organ-drum machine sounds employed by groups such as Cluster (a few of whose albums have just been reissued by Oakland label Water), Suicide, and Spacemen 3, he notes that "too much electronic [today] sounds like coke-related music." In contrast, Arp's electronic music is humane — a rarity not just in electronic music but also on the streets of San Francisco during the Gavin Newsom era, when homelessness has become more difficult and abject and attitudes toward it more hostile. "I can't remember the last time I left the house and didn't have a confrontation with a very disturbing sight, and after a long time that really starts to chip away at you," Georgopoulos says. "I drove a cab for four years, until 2004, and when I think about it I can't believe that I did. It suited my life at the time, but you're interacting with [people on] PCP, meth, and all kinds of shit — you just never know. Now that I don't drive a cab I'm hardly ever in the Tenderloin."

PRINS THOMAS, LINDSTRØM, AND THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERGROUND

Wearing a pair of shades, Prins Thomas is chatting with the doorman of his hotel in the Tenderloin when I stumble out of a taxi to interview him. It's a sunny, hot late afternoon, but Thomas — who has just woken up — isn't exactly on Norway time or California time. Later in the evening he'll be DJing Gun Club's night at Temple Nightclub. Right now, though it's too late for lunch and too early for dinner, the moment calls for a meal, so we settle into a restaurant on Polk Street. "I used to play in Oslo for the same people again and again," he says after we order food. "Now I can travel and meet like minds. It's inspiring to meet people who can help you out and who you can help out."

In San Francisco two such people are Sorcerer's Judd and Hatchback's Grawe. Only after remixing tracks by Judd's and Grawe's solo projects did Thomas discover (by following Web links) that they also record together as Windsurf. Next year he plans to release some Windsurf recordings on a new label, Internasjonal, that will step outside the Norwegian and dance music confines of his established label, Full Pupp. This season, though, he and Lindstrøm have released — in addition to a variety of vinyl projects — a full-length collaboration (Reinterpretations, the beat-driven follow-up compilation to their 2006 debut on Eskimo) and individual mix CDs. Lindstrøm has contributed a chapter to the mix series Late Night Tales (released by the label of the same name), while Thomas has unleashed Cosmo Galactic Prism (Eskimo), a two-and-a-half-hour CD cornucopia that moves from strange and delightful multigenre tracks by Glissandro 70 (the bizarrely beautiful "Bolan Muppets") and Metalchicks (the awesome "Tears for Fears/Conspiracy") through Hawkwind into the classic disco of "Get Down Boy" by Paper Dolls.

"I thought it fit the whole collection as an introduction," Thomas says when I ask him about Cosmo Galactic Prism's opener, "I Hear a New World," which Arp's Georgopoulos also says he's included in mixes. "It kind of sets the tone — it's so freaky that anything that comes after it is going to sound pretty normal. When I first heard it I couldn't tell if it was new or old. There's a similar quality to a track by Art Blakey called "Oscalypso" [from the 1956–57 album Drum Suite, now on Dusty Groove]. The drums are so distorted that it sounds relevant next to new, compressed dance music, even though it's 50 years old."

It isn't surprising that Thomas's expansive love for and knowledge of music stems from his family.

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