A radical musical experiment lands on our laps today. Three unexpected collaborators — 70s classic rocker Todd Rundgren, dance music producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, and Emil Nikolaisen of Oslo shoegazers Serena-Maneesh — have created Runddans, a 39-minute work of psychedelic electronic music that aspires toward a “Good Vibrations” for the space-disco generation.
“Put Your Arms Around Me,” not a stand-alone track so much as a sample from Runddans, introduces the beating heart of the recording: a cascading 8-chord structure, all alternating major and minor sevenths designed to press the buttons in your head marked “euphoria.” This melodic figure weaves in and out of an unpredictable, over-the-top arrangement that ranges dynamically from screeching rock orchestra to the quiet of a ticking watch. A four-on-the-floor beat surfaces at key points, rarely long enough to sustain a dancefloor. Really, this is an electronic music opus for the chill room, with what sounds like some hundred different instruments, treatments and editing tricks awaiting your aural digestion.
It may seem out of the blue that Todd Rundgren has joined forces with Norwegian musicians 20-30 years his junior, but the path to Runddans began when he remixed Lindstrøm’s “Quiet Place to Live,” one of 2012’s highlights of left-field dance music. Rundgren’s signature is all over this recording — those blissful chords, his blue-eyed soul vocals, that new age-y spirituality — and Lindstrøm and Nikolaisen swap out his usual lapses into progressive rock for a masterclass in DJ editing and sonic wig-out.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.