An Izm, If There Ever Was One

Normally when an artist returns for a followup album, that album does one of two things: It either picks up where the debut album left off and sounds exactly the way you expected it to, or it branches off in an entirely new direction, and draws on a completely new set of influences. MSTRKRFT’s Fist of God sounded nothing like The Looks, both Simian Mobile Disco’s Temporary Pleasure and Boys Noize’s Power sounded more or less the same as Attack Decay Sustain Release and Oi Oi Oi respectively. Keep in mind, though, this applies only normally.

Skream’s followup to his 2005 self titled debut was released just shy of a week ago, and without even hearing it, I think we should all be able to agree that this Bristol-based producer is just about the farthest from normal one can get. Would you have thought to do what he did to La Roux’s “In For the Kill” vocal? Neither would I.

Had he been in compliance with the above pattern, there are two things we could have expected from Outside the Box. The first would have been twelve tracks of wobbling, abrasive, disgusting computer noise, and the second would have been something similar to the deep, minimalistic dub of Skream!, but like I mentioned, Skream didn’t get where he is today by simply meeting listeners’ expectations. After all, though it may never have occurred until now, one can assume the album is called Outside the Box for a reason.

To say the least Outside the Box surprised me. But I’m not going to say the least. I’m go to go all the way, and say that Outside the Box is the most innovative thing to come to the dubstep world since Fabric Live 37. Not only does Skream manage to cater to fans of both his heavy grime and his deeper, truer dub styles, but he simultaneously brings aboard an entirely new sound, perfectly crafted to nestle up close to the other two. What sound might that be? I’ve heard funky, I’ve heard poppy, and I’ve certainly heard 90’s ravey, but personally, I think it’s all that and more.

What do you think?

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Skream – Perforated

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Skream – How Real Ft. Freckles

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Skream – Reflections

Perhaps Our Compass is Broken?

Over the past four years since the mass popularization (so to speak) of modern dance music took place, we’ve been a part of an extremely dynamic and evolving industry. In fact, I do believe that the major contributor to the success of the genre was the plethora of new ideas and sounds found lurking around every corner, seemingly having something with which to cater to everyone’s own personal taste. Artists like MSTRKRFT and their (now nearly classic) album “The Looks” drew public attention through their ability to build electronic, dance music with strong rock influences, while at the same time Ed Banger, Dim Mak, and even just Daft Punk toured the world to show people that the term “electronic” can simply be about the party, and that it does not always have to be associated with “trance” and “rave.”

ed banger dim mak

Indeed, over several years, this little disco genre grew out of it’s status as an underrepresented and disrespected fad and began to earn itself a name, each day garnering a wealth of newfound believers. And the best part about it was the fact that everyone who chose to participate was able to build off of something someone before him had already done, and to keep us all moving forward. Boys Noize‘s debut album, for example, taught the world that a loss of bit depth is not necessarily a loss of quality; Oi Oi Oi was full of beautifully destroyed, and often times disgusting sounds that, when combined with an appropriate beat, came together seamlessly. And it certainly was not just Alex doing the work. For a while, it seemed like every new album release was a revolution in itself, and that dance music itself had become untamable.

boys noize power

Unfortunately, this “booming prosperity” (if I may) seems to have changed as of late. And while I’ve heard from many different people on many occasions that, “everything has been done, and it’s all just boring now,” this isn’t what I mean in the slightest. Rather, it seems that all the artists that we’ve grown fond of over the years have continued to provide a steady stream of great quality, creative compositions, but that they’ve somehow lost the ability to build off of and be influenced by other artists, and have become stuck making music in the exact same vein as all of their past work. To put it concisely, it’s almost as if the creativity and originality is still working strong, but that we’ve lost our compass, and with it, our sense of musical direction. Thus, for the last several months, we’ve been stuck wandering in circles like a line of ants with a stick strewn across its path. Sure, the music still sounds great, but where is it–and where are we–going as a collective?

Fake Blood Fix Your Accent

If anyone feels compelled to share thoughts, ideas, or even music, I’m confident that the rest of us would welcome your ideas with open arms.

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Fake Blood – Think I Like It

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Felix Da Housecat – Kickdrum

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Boys Noize – Kontact Me (Removed as per request)

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Boys Noize – Gax (Removed as per request)

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Boys Noize – Nerve (Removed as per request)

The Proxy and Beetroots Wreck The Reality of Music

There is a range of musical taste in which things tend to stay within the reaches of what we tend to consider “normal.” This range typically spans a great deal of territory, beginning on the leftmost side at “soft” and “gentle”– an ambiance typified by artists like Sigur Ros and The Album Leaf–and progresses to the right, all the while becoming louder and heavier, until it culminates at a point where many people (generally those above a certain cutoff age) see fit to classify it simply as “noise.”

Now this scale is one that composers and producers try with all their might to fit in to, largely due to the fact that each point on the scale has its own respective crowd (or if you will, “scene”) which it corresponds to, and that making music to please a certain “scene” is a surefire way to pull a hit out of the hat. As such, this electronic world with which we associate ourselves is full of remixes and collaborations who’s authors’ styles balance each other nicely, and cause the final result to rest neatly within the scale of acceptance.

The Bloody Beetroots

Let’s say the scale is a pretty boring one, and goes from 1 to 10. That puts a few of the most eminent acts at the moment (to name a very small number of them) at:

  • Kid Sister: 5
  • Rusko: 8
  • Dj Mehdi: 5
  • Boys Noize: 9
  • Miike Snow: 3
  • Royksopp: 4
  • MSTRKRFT: 8
  • Soulwax: 7
  • Simian Mobile Disco: 7
  • The Bloody Beetroots: 9
  • Tiga: 6

Now, when these guys decide to remix each other or work together, they usually tend to be pretty complimentary styles. Let’s take a look:

Simian Mobile Disco & Kid Sister – Pro Nails
Heavier electronic combined with milder, peppier hip hop
Result: 6

Boys Noize and Tiga – Move My Body
Tiga track with a solid beat, given the Boys Noize treating yields a pretty heavy mix.
Result: 9

Rusko & Kid Sister – Pro Nails
Kid Sister earns some wild dubstep bass.
Result: A grimy 7

Miike Snow & DJ Mehdi – Burial
Mehdi’s househop links up with a mellow pop tune.
Result:4

I suppose you probably get the idea by now. The results are usually within reason; That is, two differing styles and melded together to yield a new tune that falls somewhere else within reason on the scale. I must however, encourage a large amount of weight to be placed on the word “usually”, for due to an event not dissimilar to what I expect the apocalypse to feel like, the laws of reason and logic by which I had previously lived my life were beaten (and in particular, kicked) into nonexistence.

the proxy

What happened you ask? I suppose you could say curiosity got the best of the cat; That is, the disco world finally grew tired of the predictable results of combining two different points on the scale, and decided to see what would happen not only when two very similar parts were combined, but pushing insanity even further, to see what would happen when two artists, both of whom are nearly bursting off the top end of the scale already, combine their power. The result:

The Proxy (nearly a perfect ten himself) & The Bloody Beetroots

The Proxy & The Bloody Beetroots

Never before in my life have I encountered the kind of anger and abrasive noise. Naturally, the track entitled “Who Are You” (though I would have deemed it more appropriate to call it “What Are You”) cannot be contained within the boundaries of our precious scale, but seeing as the track is so deafening so as to pose the potential risk of opening a rift in the space time continuum, to analyze just how far off the end it travels would be reckless foolishness.

Get your ear plugs ready.

Proxy – Who are You (The Bloody Beetroots Remix)

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SMASH YOUR STEREO | Who Are You (The Bloody Beetroots Remix) – Proxy from WeHeartHouse on Vimeo.

I and I Brings a World of Color to Electronic Music

I‘m pretty sure at this point it has become impossible to deny the fact that we live in an increasingly tone-deaf world. It seems like every step we take away from 2006 brings us deeper and deeper into a realm of dance music that focuses so heavily on “dance” that it nearly dismisses the fact that “music” is even a part of the genre at all. And sure, beats and breaks are a great part of music as a whole, but surely we can’t survive entirely on sampled and chopped-to-groove bits of old tracks forever, can we? What happens when everything in existence before the advent of sampled dance music is used up?

life
such is life…

It’s almost scary to see the things that pass as good artistic work nowadays. And that’s not to say that talented disco producers do not exist (because they most certainly do), but rather that the combined efforts of The Hype Machine‘s popular chart (which ranks tracks based simply on the number of little red hearts our tone deaf generation has chosen to donate to tracks chosen by an unfiltered and largely ulteriorly motivated crowd of bloggers), and the onslaught of half assed, Justice/Boys Noize/MSTRKRFT inspired, production duo’s (or perhaps quintets? Have we seen that yet?) have led to the watering down of the quality of output of music over the last several years, the image of which is summarized perfectly in the words of Remix Mag‘s Kylee Swenson:

“[…]I started to get into what [Tolle] said about the human ego and how it sabotages our happiness. How true. Celebrity is everything. Fame and money are the big prizes in life. So much so that we find ourselves wasting time obsessing over promoting ourselves rather than actually making music and improving our songwriting, playing and production skills. Fifteen years ago, none of this viral-promotions stuff mattered. No one spent an hour Googling themselves and getting depressed when they realized that they weren’t more famous today than yesterday. Seriously, what are we doing?”

-Remix, October 2008 (Click here for full article)

Essentially what I’m getting at is that the world of electronic, do-it-yourself music has all but taken the mystery and magic out of a good lot of the indy scene. Producers are much more heavily set on forcing their individual releases upon the world in hopes that they might see airplay by an artist who has several well done albums under their belt, rather than creating an album of their own, and because of this, the notion of a unique and cohesive album coming from a small, indy artist has become something uncommon enough to weep for.

I and I

I and I

I and I

Alchemist Records producer(s), I and I, is exactly that artist. That is, their work has the depth of thought that allows it to expand beyond the confines of the “ten minute sensation.” Not only does the Oklahoma based group refuse to conform to “The Book of Electronic Music Standards and Practices” within each of its individual tracks (which frequently consist of sounds and melodies that are simultaneously beautiful and unheard of), but they also boast their massive artistic prowess through their having completed a nine track album (White Noise/Black Music) that knots all their ideas together to form a collective world of their own. Said concisely, White Noise/Black Music makes it easy to fall into I and I‘s realm of harmony that drips Doppler Effect all over its complimentarily poppy rhythms and distant vocals, however, I’ll advise you venture into this one which a good amount of free time available; Finding your way back to real life is not so easy.

I and I – Venus

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I and I – The Top

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I and I – Thought Counts

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Back On Track, and Ready For the Nite

Deepest apologies for having nearly disappeared for almost a week; I’m finally on the mend after a bit of an illness, which, when combined with far too many hours of work, has proven overwhelming. On the positive side of things, however, my lack of updates has allowed me to build up a substantial collection of goodies that have been kept in their cages and away from trouble for far too long. Naturally, approach these tracks with caution; They do like to pounce, and could leave you feeling very confused and unprepared come Monday morning.

Nite Cells

In all honesty, this first act, a couple of Hollywood producers working under the name Nite Cells, had me a bit confused at first: For a reason that I have not yet come to understand, they call themselves minimalists, yet the first 15 seconds of any of the tracks they have up for preview on their Myspace will not only beg to differ, but they’ll leave you wondering why Boys Noize hasn’t decided to hop in the same boat and call himself a minimalist as well. Nite Cell’s latest track, which happens to be a remix of the Division Kent tune “L’Heure Bleue” (a track that was covered a few weeks back), is on par with some of the heaviest, grimiest pieces of electro I’ve heard, and building on that, it seems as though the boys might well have uncovered a well guarded technique that is (at least in my opinion) sure to give Justice‘s formerly exclusive twangy, slap bass synth a run for its money. I’ve got a strange feeling that Nite Cell’s could be in for heavy dose of success quite soon.

(Speaking of Justice, is it just me, or does anyone else see the ironic resemblance between these Hollywood kids, and their Parisian peers?)

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MP3: Division Kent – L’heure Bleue (Nite Cells Roquefort remix)

Soulwax, MGMT, and other Exciciting News

It’s been a while since I’ve made any sort of comment on the swelling sea of fists that is mainstream electro, but experience has recently allowed me to realize that mainstream music is (in most cases) mainstream, for a particularly solid reason: It’s damn good. And this, my friends, is precisely the reason that the Belgian phenomenon known as Soulwax is causing such a commotion with their shows as of late. The humble group have borrowed from the likes of MGMT and created a very nicely rounded remix (of which we’re lucky enough to have a decent quality pre-release recording) that has more than enough power push all your buttons at once. Soulwax provides their familiar mystical, progressive-electro touch, which is then fused with a magically curious MGMT nostalgia, and after hearing the result for the first time, I’d go so far as to say you might find yourself torn between whether you’d rather be getting down and dirty with all the hot bodies around you, or simply pondering the concepts of existential thought. Either way, make sure your seatbelt is fastened before (and I must stress before) you choose to download this track, because you’re in for a (pardon the cliche) wild ride.

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MP3: MGMT – Kids (Soulwax Nite remix bootleg)

While on the subject of Soulwax, it’s worth mentioning that the boys have recently completed a full length film entitled “Part of the Weekend Never Dies” (which should make sense to those of you who have indulged yourselves with the renowned “Nite Versions”) with hopes that they might be able to “capture a scene through Soulwax, not the other way round.” (Which I’ve taken to mean that they might be documenting a tour as seen through their own eyes?) Assuming you’re as excited as I am, you can check out a preview, as well as enter a drawing to receive one of ten free copies of the film at DazelDigital.

And on that note, I feel I should close for the time being; Late nights are proving difficult for my recovering mind to handle. Keep in touch, as I should have the second half of this post up soon. Hopefully someone out there is sweating double time to make up for my absence. 🙂

I Finally Understand the Meaning Behind “Too Many DJ’s”

I just had a rather frightening thought: Am I being unreasonable, or have we actually reached the point in music history where the number of remixes and remix artists outnumbers the number of substantial original works being put out? Either way, the functionality of the music industry has undoubtedly changed quite a lot in the past couple years. It’s strange to say that I recall a time wherein a remix was a strange and exciting thing. I suppose it figures, though; We had little more than Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk, and The Chemical Brothers to work with, and considering the large expense of equipment at the time, the field of remixes was, naturally, an empty one. At this point, however, the case is quite the opposite: It seems the bedroom producers nearly outnumber lawyers, and as such, I’m forced to cross my fingers each time I come across a remix of a song that I particularly enjoy in hopes that its bedroom producer hasn’t wreaked an excessive amount of havoc upon the once sparkling creation.

(I should mention that I really am very curious as to how other people feel about this issue. If you’ve got an opinion one way or another, feel free to express it!)

LAZRtag

Fortunately, I’ve recently been struck with an extensive good luck streak, and have been pleasantly surprised with my finds. As you may have surmised due to a recent post, I was thoroughly impressed by the job that Los Angeles’s Classixx did on their Ting Ting’s Shut Up and Let Me Go remix, and at the time that I posted, I would have argued that another artist making an attempt at an additional mix would be foolish (and would indeed further my statement about the lawyers)–In case you haven’t guessed, that’s no longer the case. Where Classixx was able to take the original poppy track and turn into something soft and elegant, the quick-rising group known as LAZRtag has chosen quite the opposite approach, and built a nine foot monster of sound that, to put things nicely, will inevitably consume you. Sure, it’s a classic, generic electro banger, but hey, who doesn’t love a fat synth to sweat to every now and again, especially when you’ve got the cute Ting Tings girl singing for you all the while.

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The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go (LAZRTag remix)

And while I’ve got you thinking heavy, I figure I owe the blog world a bit of a refresher: I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday searching for Boys Noize‘s 2006 remix of Tiga‘s Move My Body, only to be disappointed to find that it had all but disappeared. Boys Noize‘s latest works have indeed been inexplicably creative and fun, but when the cravings for his original home-brewed party techno arrive, they must be satisfied. *Sigh* Sometimes I just can’t help but miss 2006.

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MP3: Tiga – Move my Body (Boys Noize remix)