"My stepfather has been as obsessed with music [as I am]," he explains while charting Lindstrøm's background in country and gospel bands and his own early days DJing hip-hop records at youth clubs. Thomas's stepfather "would play Ry Cooder and the Sex Pistols for me. He had the Robert Christgau Consumer Guide books, which are great. I think it's funny how [Christgau] can write similarly about an Eric Clapton album and a Chic album. For me, it really isn't about bad music or good music, but about music that excites you and music that doesn't."
It also probably isn't surprising that one genre Thomas's stepfather didn't like prog rock figures heavily in his and Lindstrøm's music. As for newer terms or styles, like Lindstrøm (who good-naturedly told me, "I guess the good thing is that some people are telling me I invented a genre"), Thomas has a sense of humor about the phrase space disco. "It could have been a lot worse," he says. "It could have been called crunk or syrup [Houston's cough syrupinfluenced hip-hop sound]. In my hometown, at underage school dances 15-year-old girls used to soak their tampons in moonshine. I guess that's the Norwegian version of syrup."
UP, UP, AND AWAY WITH DOMINIQUE LEONE
When I meet Dominique Leone, he's sitting in a San Francisco café that might have the highest number of laptops per square foot. Leone has one too, but instead of staring into its screen he's feverishly using a pencil to draw on a page in a sky blue Strathmore sketchbook. I'm not surprised, because scribbler nonpareil Sol LeWitt caps a list of audio and visual influences on Leone's MySpace page. That site also offers an opportunity to hear the gorgeous song "Conversational," on which Leone's spare keyboard arrangement and ascendant choirboy-gone-slightly-cuckoo voice update the plaintive yet celestial highlights ("I'll Be Home," "Living Without You") of Harry Nilsson's classic 1970 cover collection Nilsson Sings Newman (Buddha).
Leone's MySpace page contains audio treats, but what about his sketchbook page? It turns out he's drawing, in his words, "a giant skyscraper-sized robot that streams music and scents into the air and every 10 minutes or so spews out free kittens." Indeed, Leone's sketch does look a bit like that, so when he says he'll try his hand at an idea I have a constellation that playfully demonstrates links between San Francisco and Norway musicians I take him up on the offer.
Though Leone doesn't include himself in the finished rendering ("More an exploding molecule than a constellation," he says), which accompanies this article, he belongs in a nearby orbit, thanks to his collaborations with Lindstrøm. In addition to providing the quiet heart of that artist's Late Night Tales mix, "Conversational" is also featured on an EP, simply titled Dominique Leone, that Lindstrøm is releasing next month on Feedelity (with art by Hiorthøy) as a precursor to Leone's album. The gonzo centerpiece of the EP is "Clairevoyage a Medley Performed by the 16th Rebels of Mung," on which Lindstrøm and Oslo Bee Gees maniacs Mungolian Jet Set, responding to Leone's song "Claire" (on the EP's B-side), construct a 12-minutes-plus propulsive fantasia that builds to a helium-voiced climax not far from the munchkin antics of Meek's "I Hear a New World." Leone is no slouch at reaching countertenor octaves naturally or through tape manipulation.