L/O/O/N is the impressive debut and moniker of 21-year-old Norwegian Mikael Kanstad, a former heavy-metaller who's demonstrated a steady hand for electronic music as well. Rarely straying beyond the four-minute mark, his compositions find him changing things up often and smoothly, dabbling in hip-hop, drum & bass and various EDM-lite styles, all with a professional pop overlay.
The obvious highlight here is "Dropping Faces," which sports a hook and melody that any mainstream hip-hop producer in 2016 should be covetous of. Indeed, through they feel complete, many of these songs call out for vocalists, and it isn't hard to imagine Kanstad's career developing in this way. Other noteworthy tracks are "Feeling Good," with its rousing synth stabs, and late album banger "Aye Aye," which features hip-hop beats machine-tooled for the airwaves.
There are some admittedly contrived moments here and there­: the chirping birds on "Heat" seem pointless, and the crackling vinyl piped into "Feeling Good" sounds a bit ridiculous in the otherwise digitally pristine environment here. To really nit-pick, one might suggest the album sometimes veers towards sounding more like a production demo or sizzle reel than an organic whole.
That said, Kanstad boasts an impressively assured production style for his age that, frankly, makes up for these minor issues. Full of crisp beats and crystalline synths, this album jumps from the speakers, a compelling calling card for a young artist going forward. (Balsa Wood)