TODD RUNDGREN/EMIL NIKOLAISEN/HANS-PETER LINDSTRØM: Runddans – Norwegian CD 
- B For Birth
- Liquid Joy From The Womb Of Infinity
- Oppad, Over Skyene
- Put Your Arms Around Me
- Altar Of Kauaian Six String (Todd’s Solo)
- Out Of My Head (Lone Vibes)
- Rundt Rundt Rundt
- Wave Of Heavy Red (Disko-Nektar); T.H.E. Golden Triangle (Dry Mouthed Gargoyles In A Fountain Of Fluorescent Shepard Tones)
- Ravende Gal (Full Circle)
- Ohr.. Um..Am.. Amen (Aftermath)
I’m trying to remember if I had previously known about “Runddans” before running into a copy last month. I don’t think that I had as I don’t follow Todd Rundgren’s career with a magnifying glass. I’m a casual Rundgren fan, which is almost an oxymoron. I’ve owned a few albums; some seminal, others deemed less so. What I’ve heard, I’ve liked to various degrees. I’ve both cherished and avoided some of his high profile production gigs. I saw him on his tour for the “Arena” album when he played in my city a few years back. It was a great show, but with Rundgren’s eclecticism, any album can feel like a spin of the wheel of rock. The same could be said for his tours thereof. Emil Nikolaisen was an unknown to me, but I did have the Hans-Peter Lindstrøm remix of Roxy Music’s “Avalon.” I had not cared too much for that, but the juxtaposition here was such that I bought this, unheard, any way.
Good thing, too! This is an album that’s bristling with the kind of energy that refuses to be tied town for very long. It is actually designed to be a single track, but for the case of convenience [and none would dare point to publishing royalties] it has been broken down into eleven segments. The vibe fairly reeks of the 70s cosmic troubadour who created amazing space rock tracks like “International Feel” from my favorite of his albums, “A Wizard, A True Star.” The intro suggested nothing more than a revisiting of that sound perhaps mashed up with “Man Machine” era Kraftwerk. Others have pointed to Rundgren space-prog albums I’ve never heard, such as “Initiation” or the debut Utopia album as touchstones for the vibe here, but I’ll stick with what I know.
The end result almost sounds like a track from the Rundgren ’74-’78 era that had been remixed to a 39 minute length by Nikolaisen and Lindstrøm but that may be disingenuous. After all, Rundgren came to these musicians by remixing one of Lindstrøm’s tracks [“A Quiet Place To Live”] three years ago. So what the listener has here is a sweeping, cosmic synth-rock vibe given a dramamtic infusion of Norwegian glitchaüs dubmix. Rundgren’s vocals are expression vocals for the most part, but some lyrics and key lyrical phrases appear with regularity throughout the entire composition. As does Rundgren’s guitar, usually heavily manipulated. All three play keys and program, with Nikolaisen pulling drum and bass duties. His Norwegian bandmates see no problem with dubbing the hell out of Rundgren’s vocals. They are not sacrosanct and are yet another component of the mix to be just another paint on the canvas.
The net result is a perfect trip into the future past for any Rundgren fans who’ve been pining for another bout of cosmic Todd, who I’ve not heard since 1980’s “Healing” album of spherical, Berlin school synth rock. But the x-factor sonics that Nikolaisen and Lindstrøm gleefully bring to the party owe less to notions of Tangerine Dream that originally influenced Rundgren, than to much later generations of dubbed out glitch electronics of the 21st century. The trip is cosmic, mind expanding and brief enough at 39 well thought through minutes to make one book the occasional return flight gladly.
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