I really hate disco. I am aware as a music columnist this is rather ignorant; considering its influences on hiphop, dance, and pop. But also considering its influences itself – of blues, and jazz, and again pop, just all restructured with an electronic edge – it is surprising. I think my problem lies in having been to plenty of club nights that have disco rooms, it becomes an embarrassing state of affairs watching men trying to dance well. Dancing to drum ‘n’ bass, or techno, or house is easy; even rhythm blind-and-deaf can dance to this. Disco is different however, disco requires talent, and people at these nights (which by the way are rather popular, week-in week-out, in London) really need to realise they aren’t Travolta. My other problem is that on a night out, if I am going ‘clubbing’ I much prefer going to any of the aforementioned genres of dance. Seriously, give me alcohol, put me in a club and if disco is there I am in a bad mood.
Where is this leading? This isn’t some soapbox for me to rant (yet anyway), and this does all have a point. And that point is this week’s featured artist; Daniel Fridholm. Daniel Fridholm has just recorded what is, in essence his first album. While toiling around with music under many different guises, and many different styles for the past eight years he has finally found a sound that he is happy with. This self-titled record, is as of yet completely unsigned, hot of the press, and nothing short of exceptional. At present the live show consists of the stripped down man himself, and a piano. This album, on the hand, is fully instrumental; synth driven in places, mixed with orchestral middle eights and breaks, electric guitars, and piano, combined with the fluctuating vocal effects and styles, creates, at points, an electronic wall of sound.
The instrumental Introduction essentially prepares the listener for what is to come; guitar riffs that loop like dance, rather than in the traditional rock sense, escalating synths that provide buildups, to a climax of bluesy guitar; this is, essentially, disco. I say essentially, because it doesn’t sound entirely disco, but all elements are there, and also because as the introduction segues and drops into the piano-led, Bon Iver-inspired Holy Ghost!, we are reminded that Daniel Fridholm is also, a singer-songwriter. Perhaps its my aversion to disco, but Holy Ghost! is one of the best tracks on this album; thudding drums, soul-influenced, From a Basement on a Hill-era Elliott Smith style noise/drone middle eights, and euphoric peaks, that seem impossible to achieve considering the track’s tone, but are indeed accomplished.
This debut has its low points; (Still Haven’t) Found a Job is one of the most considerable anti-climaxes you’ll hear, without a good buildup to support it, and lyrically Fridholm falls down in place; attempting a sex song, that unfortunately catches him out (on Halfwit). Which is a shame as the track has an incredibly heart felt melody, and the electronic break and blues solo are astonishing well received despite their seeming juxtaposition.
It is however hard to find fault with what is left of this forty-two minute, nine-track record (interestingly (Still Haven’t) Found a Job, and Halfwit are the two shortest on there). You Say You’re Alone But I Know sounds like T.V. on the Radio if they were to play disco. Sweet sounds ripped straight from the eighties pop, and I say that with a respect, for usually I can’t stand a lot of eighties music, but the Prince -esque choruses just can’t be beat. Soulful, and orchestral, synth-pop I Need Green is another highlight, along with its side-two cousin Tired and Tied; reiterating that Daniel Fridholm seems to have mastered the dance-inspired buildup, and then his return as a piano-balled singer-songwriter, with album closer The Best Day really is, undeniably beautiful.
This album is quite the accomplishment for someone who isn’t signed. My rant at the beginning about disco was all leading up to the fact that, for me to like this album, speaks more about it than I ever could articulate. Daniel Fridholm genre-blends, decade-bridges and accomplishes it in one of the inspiring, and most importantly enjoyable, ways imaginable. So I’ll let you enjoy, certainly out of all that I know, the best unsigned act in Britain right now. [Note: Holy Ghost! segues straight from the introduction, thus the sudden start]