Nattefrost, Dying Sun/Scarlet Moon

First you look at the title: Dying Sun/Scarlet Moon. Then you start the first track: an ominous thud, bassy electronic twiddle, grim tones. And you begin to think, “Here we go again” and you brace yourself for a dark ambient deluge. But maybe you’re forgetting that this is Danish beatmeister Nattefrost (aka Bjørn Jeppesen)–or, at least, you forget until that opening track, “In Natura,” kicks up with a pseudo-Calypso kind of sound and you’re diving into some pretty thick grooves. Dying Sun/Scarlet Moon is a cool, catchy set of tracks that mix old-school analog grooves with layers of laid-back Scandinavian chill and the occasional dose of musical humor. (If you don’t smile at the playful spunk of “My Wake Up,” please consult your physician…you may already be dead.)  Jeppesen starts strong, following “In Natura” with “Draconian,” the strongest track here. It opens with lounge-worthy chords that remind me of a great Beanfield track, then retains its sense of casual cool even as Jeppesen pilots its into the dark distances between stars and back. A gorgeous ride that pairs a spacey feel with a rock-steady club pulse. “Music for the Man” is a throbbing, shadowy homage to German disco, in which I pick up memories of Kraftwerk’s “We Are the Robots.” He enlists fellow artist Matzumi for the straightforward, 70s-style spacewalk of “Der Kinder der Erde.” Here, long, arcing pads twist their way through sharp sequencer lines for a deep, dramatic ride. The flow is interrupted then by Jeppesen’s update of Saint-Saens’ “The Swan.” It’s a clever idea, but it’s out of place and quickly devolves into an almost parodic, saccharine waltz. He recovers pretty well on the next couple tracks. “Seduced by Grief” is snaky, a little sinister, and coolly pared back. This and the follow up, “Ghosts from the North” feel in parts like they’d make great theme songs for some sort of sci-fi detective show. “Ghosts” in particular benefits from a very funky/retro keyboard lead. “The Dark Spell” builds up from a slow, dark starting point and quietly kicks into gear with a melody on high, glittering keys. Superb sequence work here, laying down an unwavering foundation. Jeppesen pulls in for “Close Encounter,” a sequencer-driven space-rocker that just drips with 70s electro-love. Analog fans will definitely want to take a listen.

Available from Groove Unlimited.

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