Mungolian Jetset have always seemed like they’re journeying from some strange and wonderful alternate world.
For the Knut Sævik and Pål “Strangefruit” Nyhus’ latest EP, however, the cosmic disco originals have made travel their explicit theme. A City So Convenient – premiering in full below, ahead of its release on Smalltown Supersound tomorrow (April 1) – is at once a celebration of imagined locations around the world and its own self-contained party. Sharply-focused but still effortlessly exuberant, the four-track EP starts with the wah-wah and horn driven ‘Quintessential Trips to Bergen’, a shimmering treat dedicated to their friends and musical forebears in the western Norwegian city.
“I guess it’s common for most folks to have an imaginary impression of all kinds of unvisited cities,” notes Nyhus over email from their base in Oslo. “I think a lot of Norwegian dance songs originally were kinds of musical fantasies about New York, Africa or whatever. But we didn’t intentionally start with ‘Quintessential’ as a homage to the sound of Bergen – it was more of a feeling that came sneaking into the track as it developed.”
‘San Francisco Speedhall’ and ‘San Disco/Diego Speedhall’ shift the action from the North Sea to the Pacific Ocean, a dream of what the West Coast is like, or perhaps was like, for an earlier electronic generation – at once open and beautiful with a murky undercarriage propelling it forward.
“It’s more like the impression of San Francisco, though I have actually been,” says Nyhus. “I have always been fond of the club sound that was quite apparent in the ‘90s, but sadly seems to have vanished a bit. Labels and artists like Garth, Grayhound, Dubtribe, the Wicked parties and the Californian underground vibe were hugely influential to me as a DJ. I like the way it fused the psychedelic hippy vibe with the dub-enhanced disco sound.
“Some of the Bergen stuff that came out in the same era, especially early Røyksopp and the works of Erot and Bjørn Torske, were kind of similar but a tad more “innocent” and “inexperienced”. Maybe it reflects in our pieces as well.”
The title track of the EP, like so many Mungolian songs, almost seems like it’s been captured as a field recording rather than constructed. The duo have some intriguing thoughts on their creative process, borne out of their now-lengthy experience.
“Sometimes I think we don’t experiment enough,” they say, speaking jointly. “A lot of our colleagues do things out of a formula they have perfected and it really sounds good. But there is so much of that in the music nowadays. We don’t really see ourselves having a big commercial success on the music streaming services, doing production by the book and trying to sound like everyone else who again are trying to sound like everyone else.”
“One has to get something finished and then move on,” says Sævik. “Sometimes a piece of music can be around for years. In the head, in the trash can, on a dust-collecting hard drive, resting on ice or, God forbid, in the drawer. It can be therapy to press it and call it a day sometimes.”
And for the future? “We will try do EPs that will concentrate around certain themes or musical stylings,” says Nyhus.
“It’s about time we go visual,” adds Sævik.
It seems obvious to end by asking Knut Sævik and Pål “Strangefruit“ Nyhus for their own favored travel listening.
“One thing that always works both in cars and planes is to go for some non-eventful progressive psychedelic trance or house,” suggests Sævik. “Train rides are something else entirely. I could listen to anything.” Nyhus opts for Chill Out by the KLF, “and I guess I should not be too humble to say that our very own We Gave It All Away… album was actually named as one of the top six albums for walking trips…”
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