I first encountered Beatmakin Troopa at our very first Iceland Airwaves back in 2009. Holly was interested in seeing him, and since I basically didn’t know any of the artists I was game. The show was in the basement of a club, in an odd room that had cubby holes in the walls filled with pillows and mats that you could sit in, and we promptly claimed one of these for ourselves. The show was a flat out trip, something I’d never seen before – just a dude with a laptop and a box with a bunch of knobs on it. There were beats. There were bird sounds. I wasn’t sure what to make of all of it.
2005s Peaceful Thinking is a bit more traditional in that it’s some quasi-ambient electronica. Not in a Brian Eno way, more in a lite jazz way. It’s got a bit of that Beatmakin Troopa weirdness to it, with some odd cuts and transitions and sometimes bizarre sonic elements that appear momentarily before disappearing forever and making you wonder if you’d actually heard them in the first place. Like the crazy record scratching on “City Rhythm”… did that just happen? It sounded so, for lack of a better term, “stock” (♠), yet it was so surprising as to be fresh – in fact becoming anti-stock. Sometimes it’s how you use something that matters.
What I have is not the full version of Peaceful Thinking, but instead the five-song 12″. There’s some decent material here, though, making me kind of want to hear the whole thing. I’m particularly impressed with the B side of “Birthday Boy” and “Most Active”, which are a touch less experimental and a bit more familiar. If I didn’t know better I’d say the rapping on “Most Active” was someone I know from the Icelandic scene… but it couldn’t be, could it? Well, thanks to the power of the internet a quick email confirmed that the rapper on this track is none other than Jóhannes Birgir Pálmason of Epic Rain! As an added bonus, this song (as well as “Birthday Boy”) is only available as a 12″ B side and is not part of the Peaceful Thinking LP.
This is a fun 12″ with five songs that each bring a unique flavor to the electronic sound. While I admittedly wasn’t ready for Beatmakin Troopa when I first heard him in 2009, as I’ve become more experienced and comfortable with the genre I find myself open to a wider range of sonic experimentation, so in many ways I’m glad it took a while before a copy of Peaceful Thinking found its way to my turntable.
(♠) If you’ve never seen the Metallica documentary Some Kind Of Monster and heard Lars go off on stuff sounding “stock”, you owe it to yourself to check it out.