The debut album from Danish/Norwegian newcomers Piston Damp is out now. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about this album, and the pre-release singles have been great. So I’m looking forward to diving into this full-length, which is called Making the World Great Again.
Piston Damp is a duo comprised of singer/songwriter/producer Jonas Groth and musical arranger/keyboardist/songwriter Truls Sønsterud. If the surname Groth sounds familiar, that’s because Jonas is the brother of Apoptygma Berzerk’s Stephan Groth. According to the band’s bio, they got their start fooling around in Apop’s studio while Stephan was on tour.
Piston Damp’s music is classic synthop with strong melodies and catchy-as-hell lyrics. On the DM-flavored “Don’t,” it’s impossible not to hum along to the song’s big hook: “We usssssed to be.”
At times, particularly on the single “Runaway”, they recall the great modern synthpop band Mesh. The opening lyrics on another single, “Something In Me,” also feel familiar (“Why are you looking at me like that”) though I can’t quite place them.
Piston Damp’s sound is broad enough to escape easy comparisons. They incorporate media samples, including news or documentary segments, across several tracks that give the music a poignant tone. “Testimony” opens with church organ and closes with an actual testimony. Bizarro mid-album track “Factor Out” contains samples talking about god and electronic devices. I’m not sure what to make of it.
The standout track for me though is “Hearts On Fire.” It’s already an energetic thumper, but Piston Damp takes it to another level with a bombastic spoken-word bit full of echoey reverb that transforms the song into a ripping KLF-like anthem.
Band photo by Kine Jensen.