Norway’s techno pioneer Bjørn Torske renews himself with new LP “Byen”

My introduction to techno went like this: In 1999, while watching VH1 Classic late at night, the music video for Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” woke me from a deep slumber. I watched the screen from underneath my covers, nursing an unhealthy fear of the Erector-set robots dancing to the digital remix of the techno pioneers’ 1978 hit.

While that initial experience struck terror into my heart, I eventually came to love the band and techno as a whole. So I feel great joy listening to Byen, the newest record and the first in eight years by Bjørn Torske.

Torske is to Norway’s techno scene as Kraftwerk are to Germany’s. Before going solo in 1998, he worked with the late Tore “Erot” Kroknes to bring Chicago-style house music to his country. The reclusive auteur released his first solo album Nedi Myra to critical acclaim; its range of tempos and emotions produced only through synthesized sound showcased the genius of its creator.

Twenty years later, Byen provides the same spectrum of feelings through sound as its predecessors. The instruments and style sound similar to that of Torske’s previous albums, but his style needs no updating; he makes house — a genre of the 1990s — relevant without any sort of gimmick to interest the listener. Those who listened to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013 and thought that was neat would do themselves a favor by listening to Torske’s latest creation, as well as everything else that he’s touched.

What I know is this: I’m a month out from spending a week on a boat in a lake in Upstate New York. I plan on doing nothing on this boat besides drinking hard liquor, reading many books, and writing, along with spending time with my family and grilling meat while on land. During that week, I will also add this album to my vacation playlist and blast it from my boat. I’m not a dancer, but perhaps the dancers around the lake will hear my broadcast of Torske’s jams and get groovy. You’re welcome, Norway. Top tracks: “Clean Air”, “Chord Control”, “Night Call”. 

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