Review Summary: A smooth blend of EDM and Scandinavian folk, more for the dance floor rather than a lounge.
When folktronica became a music buzzword somewhere after the turn of the century, it came to signify the music that was a folky spinoff of downtempo and lounge and usually meant introspective music that was supposed to cool you off or be something you would put on late at night or early in the morning.
A few years later the thing was almost not heard of, or was incorporated into the genres it came from. Now here comes the Norwegian musician/producer Morten Richter, under the alias Metaspion with his Folktronika Schmolkfonika release, seemingly intent on reviving the genre.
Yes, but the accent here is on seemingly. What Richter went for has basically nothing to do with either pastoral or gentle. On Folktronika Schmolkfonika he takes the Scandinavian folk themes to the dance floor, giving them a full-on EDM treatment. And most of the time he makes it!
What you notice first is that Richter is not just any musical newcomer, since he has started out as somebody doing ‘straightforward’ rock, actually with glam touches, but then decided to take a 180 degrees turn and do something else.
The experience shows in the fact that he obviously knows his way in the studio and how to combine seemingly disparate genres, without actually making them sound - disparate. That becomes evident from the moment the opener “Heist” kicks in with its quite intricate beats and female folk vocals.
While the following, calmer track “Nothing Is Terrible” might give you an indication that Metaspion could actually go the ‘standard’ folktronica route, it is just a brief respite for an almost constant EDM attack skilfully combined with well-chosen folk themes, in a way switching the tables on something Afro-Celt Soundsystem were getting close to. Richter is also savvy enough not to overextend the tracks, making them suitable for the album format. Extended versions are possibly left for the dance floor.
The exemplary track here is “Old Rules Don’t Apply”, which shows that Richter is not relying on any standard EDM routines, but is attempting to breathe in new elements, and not only with the use of folk samples. He sums up his ideas with the closing track “Testamente” using slow folk dance beats in combination with an old tape of his late grandfather singing after a few drinks.
n way, Metaspion and his Folktronika Schmolkfonika take a risk, because the folk/EDM combination could have been an easy one to fail. Fortunately, his knowledge of both the folk and electronics carry him through easily.