The greatest benefit of hindsight in music is the ability to cherry-pick the good out of even the most wonky of bygone genres. Norwegian electronic producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has made his name doing just that, fusing disco to a far sturdier backbone of pop-fortified deep house, and folding in bits from outliers like exotica and dramatically drifting 2001-style soundtrack music. But Lindstrøm’s third studio album flips the formula to unfortunate effect. Six Cups Of Rebel minimizes the Balearic beat for a live-band feel delving into fusion funk and cerebral prog. Fans of the man’s signature “space disco,” prepare to be alienated.
It all begins innocently enough, with a glassy loop of cathedral organ underpinning “No Release” as futuristic synthesizers lift off, evoking that familiar sunrise-from-a-frozen-planet M83 sound. Then, with “De Javu,” in comes a hail of flanged sirens, fake horn stabs, and absurd percussive blasts. The song tilts between the goofier impulses of Basement Jaxx and Matthew Dear’s affected cool before discovering an anchor in the Chicago-style R&B croon laid down by its maker. (Lindstrøm's first foray into singing is, largely, a success.)
From there, Six Cups seems determined to resurrect the bad decisions of pop’s past. “Magik” combines incessant clavinet soloing, cartoonish call-and-response, chopped slap bass, and royal marching music—it’s P-Funk parody. The titular track devolves into druggy laughter and a familiar live-wire sequencer warble—Crystal Method does The Wall. “Call Me Anytime” might actually be a remake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Tank” as imagined by one of those terribly unfunky Primus side projects starring Buckethead and D-Styles. The record never recovers—how could it?—reducing Six Cups to, at best, a necessary purging of club unfriendliness and leaving listeners with the dubious hope that next time Lindstrøm will be able to apply that old 20-20 to his own recent history.