Despite the rumors, no, Uh Oh Disco has not taken a turn for the worse. There have merely been a few inconveniences, keeping an innocent blog behind bars for a short while. But not to worry, I’ve gone the way of the Arizona State Grad student, and strapped myself up for war. (Hilarious story for those of you who are finding yourselves confused) Let the music flow.
So up until today, all of us were convinced that electro was one of the most diverse scenes in the music industry. We’re always hearing about the ties between the Los Angeles grime and the Paris verb-house and the German techno, and as such, we lean toward assuming that we’re part of a worldwide phenomenon, however, thinking deeper into the issue, when have we ever heard of a major artist coming from anywhere in between? It’s almost always some sort of major city in either western United States, or Europe, and the sheer magnitude of the distances between these cities allows us to forget that we’re missing out on everything in the middle. Ask yourself: What might an electronic artist from Nashville, Tennessee sound like?
Interesting prospect, hmm?
Now I realize that your mind is probably swimming with ideas at this point. Would there be a country influence in there? Or perhaps a more bluesy rock style? Or maybe I’m just being stereotypical? Fortunately for you, I’ve got the solution to this little quiz right here, and now matter what you were thinking, you were wrong.
They’re called Jensen Sportag, and they sound like (and I quote) “Prince, Aphex Twin, and Wesley Willis all wantin ya, sayin ‘Baby I’m yours…’ and such.” I’d personally even go so far as to say they couldn’t deny a bit of a Michael Jackson influence on top of all that. Regardless, this is a sound quite close to, and yet extremely far from most everything you’ve become accustomed to in recent years, and you are thus, dangerously prone to finding yourself hopelessly, hopelessly infatuated. Chimooann-aaahhh!
It’s easy to forget how constantly in motion the world of music is. With the surge in blog popularity and the newly established lack of dependance on the music industry for promotion, new artists are able to rapidly establish themselves as producers without the previously inevitable wait times, thus allowing for the constant influx of new artists that keep the so called “scenes” in a constant state of motion. Now, there are indeed multiple obvious benefits to this sort of system, the primary one being that it has become nearly impossible to find ourselves bored with our absolutely massive collections of beats and bangs, however, there is a bit of a problem (although I suppose not all would consider it truly problematic) that many tend to overlook: Since we’re all so occupied with the scrutiny of new artists, we seem to have become more than slightly prone, as well as ignorant, to the loss of the old.
Seriously, what happened to these guys? It seems as though they simply released Attack Decay Sustain Release, and then immediately gave up all aspirations for any future works. To be fair, yes, they have certainly been performing around the world, but their tours look to be quite poorly promoted, to the point that if I did not make the effort to see what the boys were up to, I’d have no idea that they even still existed.
Even further, I think it sent us all through a good scare when The Hype Machine saw the release and spread of two exceedingly sub par works under the Simian Mobile Disco name, and it wasn’t until I got my hands on their latest remix that I was even able to stop myself from worrying whether we were ever going to see those two Brits again. Fortunately, they’ve hit the studio with all the pent up ferocity from the last year and a half, and I’ve got a peculiar feeling that this could be a meer wink toward the future.
I’ve come to a massive realization today. Over the past several months we’ve all likely heard everything one would think there is to hear about the now immortalized Justice. Their acceptance in the world of electro is about as controversial as America’s recent election (GObama!), and somehow, we all just can’t seem to agree on whether they are indeed still capable of causing further revolution within the world of electro, or if the success of Cross was a stroke of luck. I’ve heard people tell me they’ve gotten cocky with themselves, and no longer put effort into their work. I’ve heard even more people tell me that they’ve gone soft, and that they’re trying too hard to milk their album for all it’s worth. And I’ve heard the euphoric screams of the other half of the disco world who believe that there isn’t a man on earth capable of outdoing them. But somehow, I’ve never been able to fully agree with any of these theories. Well here’s the deal.
Last weekend I went to Dim Mak‘s Hard Haunted Mansion festival in Los Angeles, (the rest of which I shall describe in detail later), and I was presented with the opportunity to see this controversial band once again, the last time being over a year ago. At first I wasn’t even sure if I’d take advantage of the opportunity; Their set overlapped with Boys Noize‘s, and that choice proved itself to be truly difficult for poor old me. I was, however, able to convince myself that since there were so many other phenomenal acts in the house that night, that they would all be competing to stand out among the others, and that this would certainly provide for an incredible set, if such a thing existed. I figured I’d stay, at least for the beginning.
Soulwax took the stage before Justice (again, to be described in detail later…), and oh was it incredible. I was barely able to blink for the whole first half of half of the show, but then it happened. The incident that has finally allowed me to realize what it is that’s so disconcerting about Justice presented itself before me: A tall, bored looking guy pushed himself right toward the front of the stage, and started chanting Jus-tice! Jus-tice! Jus-tice! right during a particularly quiet part of Soulwax‘s set. I stared at the guy for a while, essentially because I was altogether confused as to how someone could find a lack of entertainment in a live Soulwax show. There was nothing I could do to stop the guy, so I blocked him out of my mind as I made every attempt to try to get caught up in the rapture of the moment. As the band neared its finish, however, that became an impossible task: It was as though thousands of shirtless bros that can only be described by the perpetual “douchebag” stereotype had come out of nowhere and begun to wander forward in preparation for the coming appearance of Justice. But not because they actually care about the music. No, it was more because they’d learned through the stories of others that that’s what you’re “supposed to do”. When it came down to it, I stayed for Justice‘s intro and early set (which was actually quite wonderful, now that I’m able to see clearly), but at 15 minutes in, I could no longer put up with a bunch of assholes that would rather take their shirt off and carry their girlfriend on their shoulders than have a good time, or even perhaps dance (gasp) to this strangely labeled “dance music”.
So here’s the bassline. Justice has not gotten worse. They’ve hardly wavered at all in their constant flux of solid remixes and danceable, as well as enjoyable tunes. The only thing that’s changed is the demographic of the people that listen to them. And I think we can all agree that it is rather difficult to truly enjoy an artist when you know that half of the world will also claim to be fond of them, when in reality, the sole reason that there’s a Justice folder in their computers is to FIT IN.
The Rest of Hard Haunted Mansion
With that out of my system, it’ll be quite a lot easier to express to you how ridiculously incredible the rest of Hard Fest was. With just about every artist I’ve ever wanted to dance to all gathered together in the same place, it truly required a decent amount of effort to simply contain myself, and to keep from running from event to event like a crazy person.
We started off the night listening to 2 Many Djs, and oh what a kick off it was. It was rather unfortunate that the first half of their set took place while I was still waiting in line, but fortunately, the line was directly adjacent from the stage, and I was able to hear everything loud and clear. Pardon me if this comes off as blasphemy to any of you with a more rigid artist agenda, but 2 Many Dj’s show went far and beyond any other DJ set I’ve ever seen in my life, coming to a fair and even tie against Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show. Honestly, if they’d had the light show and the gear to make an experience out of their music, 2 Many would have taken the cake. Their mixing style is deliciously erratic, constantly jumping between transition noises and lick, and with an affinity to quick cuts, and they make sure to make full use of their plethora of turntables and noise making things. The number of different tracks and sounds that they are able to keep going at the same time pulls my jaw to the floor. Truly amazing. Here’s a couple tracks that I was particularly fond of.
From 2 Many Djs we decided to move over to the Hard stage and check out Simian Mobile Disco. Admittedly, these guys were the most unexpected and atypical artists of the night, especially for a Dim Mak event, but that had no effect on the thoroughly invigorated crowd. Simian started out with their classic Sleep Deprivation intro, and then proceeded to take things to another dimension altogether. The fascinating thing that sets these Brits apart from everyone else is their tendancy to improvise quite a lot during their sets. Their customized setup allows them to alter their tracks far enough from the originals that they become more interesting and curious to listen to than the average dj set. Their ending was an art of it’s own. Easily the heaviest, most intense composition of the night. They even left all their gear live and producing obnoxiously loud noises as the walked off stage, which (after more than three minutes of constant noise had passed), forced a dumbfounded roadie to walk out and attempt to figure out how to turn it off. Needless to say, it got the crowd chuckling.
I’d post a couple of Simian Mobile Disco‘s tracks as well, but I think by now we’ve all probably heard Attack Decay, Sustain, Release, and the really hasn’t been much in the way of new material from them since then.
After Simian came Soulwax, the indescribable quartet (two of which make up 2 Many Dj’s) from Belgium. If there’s anything I can say about these guys, it’s that they know better than anyone how to build the energy. When Simian finished, I was flat out weary, and was almost disappointed that I would have it in me to really enjoy Soulwax‘s set, but after less than five minutes of audio craft work (no pun intended), they had me going all over again. As a word of advice, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether paying to see Soulwax would or would not be worth the show, you need only watch their recent documentary “Part of the Weekend Never Dies” to be suffused with the ultimate passion and desire, not to mention disbelief that you might have failed to take advantage of such an opportunity.
Next was Justice, but I’ve already covered that above.
My final act of the night was the esteemed Deadmau5. I swear, he’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride: unbelievably scary, but in a damn cool way, and with damn graceful style. The show started like this: Deadmau5 (or so we believe) walks out onto the stage wearing his distinguished giant red mouse head, and turns on some bouncy, dancy, but light music, whilst starting to bob his head. Shortly after however, a black figure sneaks up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. As Deadmau5 turns around, his doppleganger another giant mouse, except with comically creepy jagged teeth, black fur, and red eyes, comes into view. The evil counterpart then plays some creepy funeral music, chokes the other Deadmau5 to death, and takes over the decks and drops (you guessed it) Ghosts N Stuff. Epic. Absolutely epic. If only I could describe the wreckage that ensued the intro of that gloriously Halloween themed track. Perhaps I’ll post a video…
As well as the track that’s been wreaking havoc on Beatport for the last week or so…