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Guest Dose: Lindstrøm

Space-disco innovator Hans-Peter Lindstrøm made you a mix.
Space-disco innovator Hans-Peter Lindstrøm made you a mix.

A Lindstrøm DJ mix? Yes, you did read that correctly — and yes, we too were pleasantly surprised when one of the masters of Norwegian electronic music offered to make one for NPR Music. Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is, after all, a man of many talents — the producer at the center of the 21st century's so-called new-disco and space-disco revivals, a synthesizer-based composer who's carried on from the likes of Vangelis and Manuel Gottsching (see his 2009 masterpiece Where You Go I Go Too) and a collaborator as likely to create effervescent dance-pop music (2010's Real Life is No Cool with Christabelle) as complex future-prog (2015 Runddans, with Todd Rundgren and Emil Nikolaisen). Yet even by his own admission, DJ'ing is not one of those skills he aspired to lord over.

"It's been almost 12 years since I've DJ'd," Hans-Peter says by phone from his house outside of Oslo. "After teaming up with [his regular dance-music collaborator] Prins Thomas quite early, I realized that he's such a good DJ, there's no need for me to compete with him. I thought, I am just better off doing my own thing."

With some exception, Lindstrøm's "own thing" has been 4/4 beats accompanied by clean synthesizer lines — arpeggiated, melodic and pristinely arranged into dance-floor earworms, an update on the great, mechanized Italo tracks that have been the toast of continental clubs since Giorgio Moroder's initial '70s heyday, renewed and time-stretched for contemporary dancers. At its best, Lindstrøm's music is light — a word he uses complimentarily throughout our conversation — without ever feeling lightweight

His newest three-song EP, Windings (which includes the great "Closing Shot," a track Recommended Dose shined a light on earlier this year) displays the form to such perfection, it's almost an epitome of Lindstrøm's powers. Though to hear Hans-Peter tell it, after years of determined seriousness, he was just trying to do something simple, fun and (for him) effortless.

"I've been very focused on albums for a long long time," he says. "And the album I did together with Emil and Todd Rundgren ended up being a very complicated puzzle. It's the kind of album where after you finish — speaking for myself at least — I wanted to something that was lighter, easier on the ear and easy on my mind. I appreciated the possibility of locking the door and working solo again. With these kinds of tracks, I do not see myself struggling in the studio." He punctuates the last two sentences with laughter, which he'll do again and again.

Another aspect of life that work has fostered is a change of listening habits, which played a hand in the sound of his Guest Dose mix. "I got tired of almost all music involving old disco and all kinds of music from the club. So, for about the last year, I have been mostly listening to classical. I never did that before. It represents something different from what it did earlier in my life."

No, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm's selections for this diverse and genre-flowing Guest Dose are not all classical — or, in fact, at all classical. Instead, think of that admission as a palette-cleansing mindset with which the mix was made, one that allows for contemporary songwriters, jazz-rock curios, avant-garde asides, electronic baroque miniatures and, yes, the occasional leftfield disco track, to all live beside one another.

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