Less than a year after releasing his experimental foray into prog-rock, Six Cups of Rebel, Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is back with a new album. Due November 6 via Feedelity/Smalltown Sound, Smalhans returns to the “space disco” and Moroderisms Lindstrøm has been perfecting for the past decade. Friend and colleague Todd Terje lent his vintage synth touch to the record, which Lindstrøm dreamed up and put to proverbial tape in less than a month. Sleek and bombastic, the record’s six tracks pulse with enough 4/4 to convince his nine-year-old son that disco is better. Stream the album in full below and check out our Q&A with the man who loves to eat his song titles.
Can you talk about the process behind recording the album? It has a very retro sound, and Todd Terje is known for his use of vintage synths. Did you mostly use older synthesizers?
I didn’t use a lot of old synthesizers. I was using more or less electronic presets from Logic in an old-fashioned way. It doesn’t really matter if the music sounds the way you want it to sound, but I go back and forth. Terje, when he did the final mix, added some subtle analog stuff. Because of that, you get the vintage sound.
Who’s the woman on the cover of Smalhans?
I don’t know! I haven’t spoken to the guy who did the artwork, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of his friends or something. I’m thinking maybe she’s a starving artist who can’t afford anything and maybe this is helping her out.
Why did you name the record a word that means “scarcity” or “poverty” and then name each track after food?
The food is traditional Norwegian dishes, and they’re really cheap to make, so it makes sense to call it Smalhans. Also my name is Hans, and “small” in Norwegian means thin, and I’m a really thin guy. It has a double meaning.
Can you describe some of the dishes a little bit?
All these dishes are the food I used to get when I was growing up. The Norwegian quality of the lamb is really high — they come down from the mountains and are really big and fat and tasty. If you get a hot dog in Norway it’s 20 percent meat and the rest is crap, but “Vos-sako-rv” is made of real meat. The third song, “Eg-ged-osis," is egg and sugar mixed together. When I was a kid I really liked it, but I’m not sure I would like it today.
This album seems to be a return to classic Lindstrøm, as opposed to February’s Six Cups of Rebel, which was more experimental. Why did you release one so shortly after the other?
After I finished Six Cups I had this reaction against everything experimental and weird and strange. I also decided I would make something more straightforward and easier for me to play when I’m on tour and doing shows. Usually people expect to hear dance music, so most people would just leave before I finished my show if I just did Six Cups. It’s fun to play weird stuff for people, but also it’s really fun to play music that people can dance to and to get that reaction from the crowd. If I’m doing too much experimenting for that many years I will commit artistic suicide.
You once said people were listening to both club music and rock music, and your style reflected that. How do you feel about the fact that a lot of pop is now incorporating EDM into their song structures?
I have a son who is nine years old, so I guess some of the stuff he’s listening to is pop music or EDM. There hasn’t really been a lot of talk about EDM here in Oslo. In my opinion, it’s not that far from commercial house music a few years ago. For me, it’s just inventing a new genre to make everything sound fresh and new again.
Dave 1 from Chromeo has a ‘50s/’80s theory, which basically says that in the ‘80s, music sounded like the ‘50s, so today’s music sounds like the ‘80s. Do you agree? Robert Plant’s musical heroes were black blues guys from the ‘50s because that was the music he grew up with. Bob Dylan was a big hero of mine, and I checked out people he was inspired by, like Woody Guthrie, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. The music you get exposed to makes a big impact on you when you’re young, and for me, the way they were thinking about music in the ‘80s has had a big influence.