Mungolian Jet Set, We Gave It All Away…And Now We Are Taking It Back
A redeye flight to the dark recesses of demented minds
Travel in dance music is a mostly dying metaphor: Shorter sets and more DJs mean that fewer jocks can effectively sequence their sounds to take dancers on a night-long trip, and disco acts long ago stopped generating LP-length impressions of faraway lands synched to human drums and tremulous strings. Yet as its name suggests, Norway's Mungolian Jetset revives the dancefloor travelogue. DJ P ål "Strangefruit" Nyhus and his keyboardist partner Knut Sævik wear capes and headgear reminiscent of traditional Mongolian garb, but their boldest alliance to remote locales is in their globetrotting, time-traveling grooves.
Their first compilation blurs the distinctions between self-composed tracks and their extraordinarily idiosyncratic remixes. Two continuous 59-minute suites integrate the ersatz Asian exotica of '50s bachelor pad safaris, the LSD-fed epiphanies of '60s psychedelia, the lurid extravagance of progressive '70s rock, the quirkiest bits of '80s club, the dubby undulations of early '90s ambient house, and the aural bacchanalia of the current Balearic revival scene.
This anything-goes approach takes their music to captivatingly bizarre places. Opening with a spoken monologue that might as well be African voodoo, the album gets kicking with "Creepy," a self-descriptive cut that begins with a Jean-Michel Jarre-esque synth doodle, shifts into New Wave funk, then climaxes with a bubbling acid-house reprise. Pizzy Yelliot (allegedly a Mungolian pseudonym) covers Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved" with an absurdly fake Jamaican accent over Prince-ly keyboard squiggles before the cut explodes in party-rockin' hip-hop malaprops.
But the most convincing proof of Jetset's particular, peculiar genius is its utterly ridiculous remix of Dominique Leone's "Claire," here renamed "Clairevoyage." Transforming what began as an ethereal and beatless Todd Rundgren-y ballad into an 11-minute prog-disco monster with the help of fellow Norwegian dance music maxi-malist Lindstrøm, the duo add wordless chanting, rumbling tribal percussion, a butt-busting Eurodisco bassline, and crazed falsetto vocals that suggest the Bee Gees impersonating sex-starved Japanese businessmen. It's a redeye flight to the dark recesses of demented minds.