Laid Back

Brother Music, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


This one has some serious roots. Way back in the ‘70s, Tim Stahl and John Gulberg played in The Starbox Band, though after an ill-fated gig with The Kinks in their homeland of Copenhagen, the band dissolved. Undeterred, the pair moved on and soon pioneered a new method of making music. With the advent of multi-track tape recorders, rhythm boxes, and synthesizers, Stahl and Gulberg started fleshing out tracks in their makeshift studio in downtown Copenhagen, birthing new sounds and alternative methods of music making.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

By the early ‘80s and now named Laid Back, the duo had hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Their legendary song “White Horse” became a #1 dance track, laying the groundwork for the future of electronic music. But their biggest success was “Sunshine Reggae,” which did the unthinkable by hitting #1 in 22 countries and selling 20 million copies. The band didn’t stop influencing there, though. In 2005, their single “Beautiful Day” was remixed by the seminal Trentemoeller, making Laid Back’s name more familiar with an entirely new generation.

A collection of rarities never unearthed till now, Cosyland stems from the original multi-track archive tapes. It was recorded  in 1981 on a Roland TR-808 rhythm box, a SH-101, a Pro-One monophonic  synthesizer and a GR-500 guitar controller and synth, and while this equipment is considered prehistoric today, back when this was recorded it was futuristic and groundbreaking, an entirely new path for music enthusiasts.

This, their 11th offering in 30+ years, doesn’t deviate too much from their inception. They still cultivate gentle dream pop among the best, injecting plenty of lively influences along the way. The title track, which there are two versions of here, showcases their New Wave and funk moments, while the others are more pop oriented in nature. “Get Laid Back” is about as abrasive as they get, with harder electronic fluttering, though the restrained vocals keep it from getting too wild. “101 Part Two” finds a darker groove but fizzles out into a electric piano work, illuminating the band’s ability to diversify.

This is as good as place to start as anywhere for the first time listener and a must for longtime fans of Laid Back. Legends like Prince and MGMT cite Laid Back as inspirations and it’s easy to tell why with these classic and timeless electro-pop gems.

Rating: B+

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© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Brother Music, and is used for informational purposes only.