It’s now a decade since Prins Thomas got together with Bear Entertainment’s Stevie Kotey to launch his Full Pupp label. That the label has lasted this long is a remarkable achievement in itself, but what it says about the Norwegian disco scene is far more profound. Put simply, it marks a watershed moment in the development of the “Oslo sound”; where once it was thrillingly new, now it’s as much part of the fabric of electronic music as Bristol bass, Chicagoan acid, Detroit techno or New York disco.
Full Pupp came about at a time when a new school of Norwegian producers were attempting to follow in the footsteps of scene stalwart Bjorn Torske – for years a man ploughing a lone furrow in Norway, producing synthesizer-heavy music heavily influenced by Italo-disco and oddball European electronic disco. Although Hans-Peter Lindstrom had already found an audience by releasing strobelight-friendly productions on his own Feedelity label (sometimes with the assistance of friends and occasional studio partners Prins Thomas and Todd Terje), he didn’t have the inclination or desire to make the imprint a focal point for a still nascent scene.
Prins Thomas, initially more of a DJ than a producer, with residencies at a number of local venues, decided to create Full Pupp as a showcase for the disco-inspired productions he and his friends were making. Suddenly, a micro-scene based in sleepy Oslo, previously renowned only for the output of the ever-eccentric SmalltownSupersound label, had its own voice. In truth, few outside Oslo paid attention to begin with, but within a couple of years the label’s output – variously described as Scandolearic and Scandi-disco – was picking up plaudits left, right and centre (one British music magazine even devoted a cover feature to Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje).
Full Pupp’s success, through promoting previously unheard local artists such as Blackbelt Anderson, Magnus International, Randaberg Ego Ensemble and Diskjokke, made what was still a tiny scene seem fresh, urgent and exciting. The fact that the music the label promoted – heavily electronic, unflinchingly melodic, dancefloor-friendly and variously influenced by Italo, Balearic, dub disco and wide-eyed electronica – sounded like nothing else around also helped; these were producers doing their own thing.
Over time, the label’s trademark sound inspired a whole new generation of Norwegian producers to follow in Thomas and Terje’s footsteps. In recent years, a whole new swathe of producers have made their debut on the label – the likes of Andre Bratten, Jarle Brathen, Marius Circus, Robin C and Omar V. Where once it was home to scene pioneers, Full Pupp is now just an outlet for the best Norway has to offer – within certain parameters, of course. Prins Thomas still does the A&R, and the label is still built in his image.
It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Full Pupp’s tenth anniversary celebrations should culminate with a two-CD vinyl mix-up – with additional studio edits and overdubs, naturally – by Prins Thomas. It’s fitting, too, that Thomas hasn’t resorted to misty-eyed naval-gazing; half of the tracks are brand spanking new, having been specially recorded for the collection (vinyl nerds: these are available on four recently released sampler 12” singles). Musically, there are few genuine surprises – this is, after all, a celebration of Full Pupp’s unique take on nu-disco, a vibrant blend of arpeggiated synthesizer lines, kaleidoscopic melodies, low-slung grooves, spine-tingling piano motifs and saucer-eyed electronic grooves.
That’s in no way a criticism though; both mixes sparkle from start to finish, rising and falling, bubbling and surging like the tide lapping in and out of Oslo harbour. Like the best DJ mixes – and Prins Thomas initially mixed it at home on vinyl, before adding his own unique, delay-laden studio twist – Ten Years of Full Pupp seemingly whizzes by in a matter of moments, taking you on a distinct journey in the process. It’s a masterful concoction. That’s not to say that there aren’t notable musical highlights. Prins Thomas’ “Bobbletekno” – here featured in a unique blend of DJ Sotofett’s emotive New Age Mix and Thomas’ own Permiks – offers a brilliantly Scandolearic introduction to disc two, while Randaberg Ego Ensemble’s defiantly eccentric disco-funk jam “You Can’t Do It Right” (think Todd Terje’s “Funy Mix” of Mungolian Jet Set’s “Prog Rocks and Moon Jocks” remade on the moon) provides a fitting conclusion.
As for the first CD, it concludes with a thrilling trilogy of tracks; the bubbling, late night throb of Oyvind Morken’s “En Navneles Jaevel”, the surging alien funk of Skatebard’s “Sequence” (as re-edited, of course, by Prins Thomas), and the Scandi-jazz-goes-nu-disco jauntiness of Magnus International’s willfully eccentric remix of Lindstrom’s “Vos-Sako-RV”. These are merely a handful of the many highlights strewn across both discs; in truth, we could name check many more, from the rush-inducing Norse disco overload of Omar V’s remix of Jarle Brathen’s “Untitled” to the deliciously loose space disco-jazz of Casiokids’ “Den Lange Valen Hjen”.
Ten Years of Full Pupp is something of a triumph then – a fitting tribute to the label’s first decade, a reminder of the continued potency of Norwegian nu-disco, and a signal of “Scandolearic” disco’s coming of age all rolled into one.
1. Frisvold & Lindbæk – Bozak FX
2. Marius Våreid – No Vil Eg Bort Og Gifta Meg Og Rydja Meg Ein Gard
3. Blackbelt Andersen – Treigt Og Gæli
4. Magnus International – Rea
5. Ytre Rymden Dansskola – Cafe Del Mareritt
6. Erik Skantze – Stargaze
7. Marius Våreid – Villa Farris + Marius Våreid – Villa Farris (PT Versjon)
8. Prins Thomas – Ørkenvandring
9. Magnus International – Mandass Morran Blus
10. Casiokids – Den lange veien hjem
11. Andre Bratten – Stille Sortie
12. Tarjei Nygård – Brosteinsjungel
13. Jarle Bråthen – Untitled (Omar V Remix)
14. Blackbelt Andersen – Tyrkisk Pepper (Dølle Jølle Remix)
15. Diskjokke – 1987 (Prins Thomas Diskomiks)
16. Øyvind Morken – En Navneløs Jævel
17. Skatebård – Sequence (Prins Thomas Edit)
18. Lindstrøm – Vos-Sako-Rv (Magnus International Remix)
1. Prins Thomas – Bobletekno (DJ Sotofett New Age Mix)
2. Prins Thomas – Bobletekno (Perkmiks)
3. Magnus International – Treig
4. Øyvind Morken – Når Bunnen Er Nådd
5. Andre Bratten – Libra
6. Prins Thomas – Søt Kløe
7. Magnus International – Goober (Marius Circus Remix)
8. Marius Våreid – Vallefaret (Blackbelt Andersen Remix)
9. Jarle Bråthen – Stjernekrigen
10. Lionheart Brothers – The Drift (Prins Thomas Miks) + Lionheart Brothers – The Drift (M.Øby & PT Edit)
11. Frisvold & Lindbæk – Spøk Og Spenning (PT Bogus Beat) + Frisvold & Lindbæk – Spøk Og Spenning
12. Sommerstad – Neste Stopp Morra Di
13. Telephones – Kanal (Prins Thomas Sure Oppstøt)
14. Randaberg Ego Ensemble – You Can’t Do It Right