When former Studio man Dan Lissvik released his first solo material following the band’s break-up, he still seemed in mourning for their passing. Although 2014’s Meditation arrived two years after he officially parted ways with Studio partner Rasmus Hagg, it felt like a heartfelt tribute to a 10-year partnership gone awry. It opened with “An Ode To Studio” (complete with tear-jerking pianos), before sauntering through tracks that felt like they could have formed part of the duo’s brilliant – and critically acclaimed – 2006 debut album, West Coast. The band’s trademarks – glistening electric and acoustic guitars, languid dub basslines, freshly baked textures, space disco synths and krautrock style rhythmic hypnotism – were all present and correct. It was great, of course, but he’d clearly not moved on.
A few months after Meditation hit record stores, Lissvik became a father. Initially, music naturally took a backseat to the dewy-eyed demands of first-time fatherhood, but soon the lure of the studio became to great. So, he set up a stripped-back recording suite in his study, and began sneaking off for late night sessions once his partner and baby had gone to sleep.
It’s these unfussy, spontaneous, late night workouts that form the backbone of Midnight, Lissvik’s first solo album under his given name. While the set-up used to record it may have been relatively basic – according to the accompanying press release, at least – the album’s eight tracks are every bit as layered, atmospheric and dozily positive as any of the Swede’s work with Studio.
Interestingly, while there are obvious stylistic similarities to that outfit’s trademark sound palette – think loose, dubby basslines, sun-bright guitar motifs, bubbling, Balearic synth lines, and the kind of life-affirming positivity that can’t fail to put a smile on your face – for the most part Midnight is a far bolder and, surprisingly, dancefloor-centric beast. Of course, there are a couple of downtempo moments straight out of the Studio playbook – see the plucked acoustic guitars, reverb-heavy pads, unfurling dub bass and shuffling drum machine beats of “N”, and the instrumental Balearic-pop bounce of “I” (the second of two alphabetically titled tracks of the same name) – but it’s Lissvik’s other influences than by and large dominate.
Clearly, he was in a happy place during the recording, and this manifests itself in a clutch of cheery, disco-influenced moments that sit somewhere between Prins Thomas, Todd Terje, and the Idjut Boys. Check, for example, the jaunty synth stabs, dub disco bass and gleeful guitars of opener “M”, or the softly surging “D”, where Clavinet style synth lines, glassy-eyed top lines, and cascading guitars jostle for position over a hustling disco-funk groove. Then there’s album highlight “G”, a pitched-down, Balearic disco-funk jam that sounds like the unlikely offspring of James Brown, Bohannon, Hans-Peter Lindstrom and, yes, Studio; it’s as funky as hell, but also as beautiful as Scandivian summer sunrise. In fact, it’s only “H” – a two-minute hit boasting heavy Reese bass, wayward electro drums and woozy synthesizer melodies – that breaks the disco-centric spell. Perhaps, finally, Lissvik has moved on.