Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tomas Barfod - Salton Sea

Despite releasing music since 2004, Tomas Barfod’s ‘Salton Sea’ is the Danish DJ and producer’s debut full length. Like fellow Euro house producer John Talabot who released the outstanding debut ƒIN earlier this year, Barfod has enlisted a number of collaborators to provide vocals. However, Barfod breaks this up in a logical way – placing one instrumental track then one with accompanying vocals throughout; as largely instrumental albums can start to lose your attention by the half way point, especially as ‘Salton Sea’ clocks in at just over an hour. Staying true to his Scandinavian roots, guest vocalists (including CHLLNGR and Nina Kinert), are all of Swedish or Danish descent – apart from NY singer Lydia Ainsworth.

Opener D.S.O.Y starts off with a repetitive disorientating and hypnotising patterns with a pulsing, twinkling beat in the background before a steady, pounding drum beat comes in two thirds into the song which gives the song its centre. Lead single Broken Glass begins with a reverb-heavy guitar hook and the barely audible sound of an old record spinning on a turntable with autotuned vocals over the top from Jeppe Kjellberg before a summery, bouncing beat kicks in with relaxing drums before switching up after the sound effect of glass breaking for hissing percussion and a steady 4/4 drum machine beat.

November Skies is the standout on ‘Salton Sea’, accompanied by one of two features from Swedish singer Nina Kinert. It’s the most poppy on the album, recalling fellow Scandinavian artists such as Niki & The Dove and iamamiwhoami. Following on from November Skies is Aether which could not sound any more different – sounding more like The Knife as a dark, foreboding synth drone laden with atmosphere is accompanied by a tinny videogame-esque looped beat. This builds up until a loud, ticking drum beat is brought in half way through as well as off-beat popping sounds that soon find their way into the timing of the song without disrupting the other elements.

Towards the end of ‘Salton Sea’, the songs start to become more technical and Nighthawke offers haunting harmonies from Lydia Ainsworth that foreground whilst a quiet heavy-bass bubbling beat slowly builds up into the mechanical click-clack of machinery before krautrock synths take over and the harmonies quietly fade into the background. Whilst ‘ƒIN’ is still undoubtedly my favourite house record of the year, Tomas Barfod’s ‘Salton Sea’ comes a close second with its intricate layers and attention to detail.


Aurora Mitchell

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