Lyra Valenza – Low Gear No Pressure

I always get a little extra psyched about a new act I discover if I learn they’re from Denmark. I can’t help but have a sense of national pride, even though I’m only half Danish, no longer live there, and have plenty of criticism for the country politically and culturally. It’s just that I love Denmark, and I spent many of my formative adult years trying to uplift the dance music scene there, especially its weirder and less pretentious sides. And since I have friends there still, I end up continuing to promote Danes more than acts from most other countries (case in point, see the previous post about Anders Dixen’s Ndares project). It’s also just simply a small country, so I’m always proud to see it having an outsized (or even appropriately sized) cultural effect in the world.

Lyra Valenza is a Danish act that ought to have such an impact. When I first heard the duo’s new album Low Gear No Pressure, it was immediately energizing. Without any context at first, I fell right in love with the hyper-modern junglism of “Life on the Line,” a song that sounds to me like what might soundtrack Wave Race 64 if it were released right now, instead of in 1996. My other favorite from the record is “Joy Divided”—which also manages to sound bleeding edge while full of 25+ year old reference points. (Maybe there’s a deeper point to be made here, about how the current musical moment’s quintessence is itself about recurrence and breathing new life into 25-year-old archetypes? I’m not quite able to put the pieces together right now, so you take it the last few yards please, dear reader.) In any case, I was already sold on Lyra Valenza, but when I saw the names Hjalte Lehmann Christensen and Jens Konrad Barrett, and inferred they were Danes, I paid a little extra attention.

Low Gear No Pressure is a shining example of how dance music can be framed for the album format. Christensen and Barrett span genres so effortlessly, I can’t bring myself to start listing which ones, because doing so would only reduce the album’s personality; it’s palpably unpretentious, friendly, and approachable (which is fitting, since its title is a nod to escaping industry expectations and enjoying friendship); but most importantly, Low Gear No Pressure is just really well written, full of humor and detail, and impeccably produced. I will be listening to this album for a long time.

Christensen and Barrett have been generous enough to let me share the mp3s of two of my favorite songs on the album, but don’t delay—support them by buying Low Gear No Pressure on bandcamp—or at least throw them a few pennies by streaming the record on your parasitic streamer of choice.

Lyra Valenza – “Joy Divided” (mp3)

Lyra Valenza – “Life on the Line” (mp3)


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