With the release of Bjørn Torske‘s latest album offering Byen, he is solidifying his place as one of the most innovative producers coming out of Norway and certainly one of the most imaginative. A sound referred to as “space-disco” by Pitchfork, Byen is Bjørn’s first solo album in eight years and it fully embodies the intricate, experimental, other-worldly party sound niche he helped craft in dance music. However, I would personally argue that “space-disco” is a rather limited label to place on Byen — it definitely has roots in the experimental, ambient-pop universe as well as straight classical piano influence mixed with a healthy dose of proper house beats.
Nearly every one of the seven tracks on this album runs eight minutes or longer, which means every song really takes its time to build an arc such that playing the album through sounds almost like a mixed DJ set with each song able to effortlessly stand alone. The second cut, “Clean Air,” is what we fell for first; it sounds like a soulful, synth-wave piano ballad with a little orchestral jazz improv flair mixed into a disco-house tune. “Gata” comes out of the gate like a bloghaus race-horse running in slow motion to a fat electro-house beat; it’s dramatic, sexy, and an instant party-inducer without being aggressive in its momentum. Boasting eight minutes to play with, the song has plenty of time to get where it’s going and trust that you for sure want to get there too.
We absolutely recommend a start-to-finish listen for Byen, but if you insist on only listening to one song to gauge your interest, let it be “Clear Air” — that fresh breath of limitless Norwegian disco imagination will wake you right up to the magic of this record.