Boogie nights and disco dayz from Norway's Proviant Audio after Daft Punk's hook-up with Nile Rodgers from Chic produced ultimate ear worm 'Get Lucky', 2013 was hailed as the year of disco — but the tunes to back up that lofty claim have been a bit lacking. Daft Punk's subsequent album was disappointing, and the brand-new nu disco sounds to fill the void left by boring deep house haven't really materialised. Until now.
Mathias Stubø has just made a disco album brimming with poppy hooks, seductive strings, groovy basslines and a great camp aesthetic. He records under the name Proviant Audio, and like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm and Todd Terje he's from that disco hotspot... Norway. What is it about Norway and nu disco? “Hard to say,” Mathias tells DJ Mag. “I’ve just been doing my thing. I come from jazz and prog rock like Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra [jazz fusion group that featured Jan Hammer] — '70s/'80s stuff. I found disco digging for fusion records when I was a kid.”
Fusion is a good word for his 'Drift Days & Disco Nights' album. 'Like Never Before' seems to channel the spirit of the Salsoul Orchestra and '70s soft rock, 'How Does It Feel' is like something off 'Discovery'-era Daft Punk, and 'Once I Thought' could easily have had Thomas Bangalter's dad, Daniel Vangarde — a producer of Ottawan and the Gibson Brothers — at the controls. Towards the end of the album, with the jazzy loungecore of 'It's Back' and Balearic dreamer 'Drifting', Mathias eases into relaxing lounge territory — the natural flipside to disco's wild abandon.
DJ Mag asks Mathias if he frolics in Norway under a giant glitterball in one big nu disco happy family along with Lindstrøm, Todd Terje and Prins Thomas. “Not really,” he deadpans. “We would stop and say hello whenever we meet. We work in the same area and I'd bump into Hans-Peter [Lindstrøm] on the way to the studio, or something. It's awesome what they are doing.”
We start talking about the last Daft Punk album, with Mathias observing: “It's great to see that disco can work in a pop setting again.”
“It took some time for me to get into their album,” he continues, “mostly because I was hoping for something else. I understand what they're trying to do, and it's good. They chose a different route.” DJ Mag then tells him that his album is BETTER than Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories'... “Wow, that is some compliment,” he says. “I'm really glad you like my album. I wasn’t thinking about DP when I made the cuts, but the influence is clearly in there, between everything else. I’ve learnt so much listening to Daft Punk records. I gotta pay my dues to them.”
Mathias says he tried to do a disco record, but his eclectic tastes meant that it came out a bit broader than that. “I grew up with jazz, that's why the arrangements are so free,” he says. “Some tracks aren’t even full songs, just beats. I'm also into '80s boogie and electro. I’m not afraid to be cheesy, but I try not to cross the line. Hopefully I didn't.”
He explains how all the tracks were first recorded live, then chopped up back in his studio to give it that sampled feel. “I’m a big hip-hop fan,” he declares. “I also like to flip samples, but trying to make sure I always bring something new to the table.”
Live gigs will follow where possible, although Mathias admits the logistic difficulties with a nine-piece live band. “We're a monster,” he admits. “However, we're working on a limited version to go on tour with. I also do DJ tours.”