We’re Out of Control

During the great depression, and throughout all this country’s wars, we had music to keep us sane. What happens when music becomes both our depression and our war?

Icould just go ahead and dump another stale track out of my giant trash bag labeled

dance-music-that-all-sounds-the-same1

onto the playing field here. I could very well reach into that bag, pull out a track, and without ever having looked at it, I could tell you what it sounds like:

  • There’s a sample. It’s taken either from a hip hop vocal, a nineties house vocal, or the latest indie rock release, and it’s looped ever so poorly; That is, fifteen seconds is all one needs to become confident that the track would likely have been greatly improved by the removal of the sample in its entirety.
  • Then there are some crumbly, Justice knock off drums (can you believe we’re still living amongst a world of producers attempting to reproduce the sounds of 2006?), that seem to make the notion of simply listening to Cross all over again a pleasing alternative.
  • Finally, there’s a peculiar, pitch-bent, synth melody, likely far from in key with the rest of the “track”, that either sounds as though its producer has yet to discover the concept of “stereo”, or perhaps like he’s simply let the split and pan technique invade (and thusly ruin) the body of his sound.

That track I just grabbed out of my trash bag has become common place. It can be found creeping all over the net, in it’s many shapeshifting forms, but when it really comes down to it, it’s easy to see it for what it is: Beneath its cloak of origins, languages, and personalities, it is a product of all seven of those deadly sins as they’ve chosen to manifest themselves in the music industry. It represents nothing more than the truest feelings of apathy toward music culture itself, it is the thing that no one in their right mind would openly choose to associate themselves with. The sad truth, however, is that had I taken that lifeless piece of noise and allowed it to be the focus of todays note, the world would have been content.

Have our minds simply given up? Have we become so used to the constant influx of fame-driven audio that we’ve forgotten to check to make sure a piece of music is even good before we add it to our ever growing supernova of a music collection? What happens when the supernova collapses? What happens when the last remaining producers that continue to take pride in the work they release become lost amongst the tidal wave of kids armed with Reason and a myspace account, leaving nothing but remixers with nothing to remix? If only this generation valued patience and knowledge as much as it did fame and money…

I sense a future full of pink noise and quiet. What are you going to do about it?

My Sanity Check

skywriter

A world of congratulations to Ekleroshock‘s Data for having the ability to be inspired by a particular sound without flat out ripping it off. Almost exactly one year ago, the French producer teamed up with Sebastian Grainger to produce “Rapture,” a track that, at the time, was a huge leap forward in the developing disco scene. Seeing as most producers don’t have the mind to even think up a melody before calling it quits and proceeding to spam their address book with promotions, Data‘s heartfelt tune turned more than a couple heads in his direction. One year later, (that time being now) he’s decided to drive it home with his first ever album release, Skywriter (2009), which (at least in the opinion of a lowly blogger) vies strongly as a candidate for the best album of 2009 (though Royksopp‘s release provides for some steep competition. The simple fact that the guy has made an album (in the truest sense of the word) comprised of pieces that function as songs every bit as much as they do as tracks should be more than enough to keep us all from returning to The Hype Machine for days.

Data makes music. His music will make you feel things. His music will make you think. His concepts are both familiar and unfamiliar, but even when they’re familiar, you feel as though you’ve never heard them before. Why?

Data is a musician.

Data – Skywriter

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Data – One In a Million

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Data – Nightmare

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We’re All Moving, But I’m Not Sure Anyone Knows Where We’re Going

It’s strange seeing my so called electro world being split so readily in two like this. It seems the heavy electro sounds that brought the dance community so close together a few years back have progressed in such diverse ways that we’re no longer able to uniformly agree on what defines the most desirable new sound, and as such, we’ve been left with two entirely different genres of music that are both somehow still grasping to be considered electro. I suppose it is a bit strange, and almost a bit frustrating to think that there are going to be multiple tastes and preferences to satisfy along our future disco endeavors, but let me assure you, this can only be good: This may, in fact, require that a little effort be put back into the “job” that is Dj’ing, and as such, I feel there could be a massive drop in the number of freeloading blog abusers sometime in the very, very near future. The threat of required effort, my friends, is natural selection at its best. (That is, if natural selection were real, of course. But the earth is only 6000 years old, remember? Sarah Palin told us so.)

The Two Branches of Electro

That title made me feel like I’m writing a history book. Maybe I should make an outline due at the end of the quarter.

Anyhow, it seems the first half of the split electro genre has not only skimmed the fat, but it’s actually dumped a good 75% of its musical meal right out the window without losing a single bit of integrity. It’s like this: Rather than being served a burrito with everything that makes your taste buds get freaky, all crammed into one delicious dish, you’re now receiving a single bomb ass steak, and a baked potato. In the end you’ve only got about 10% of what you had before, but somehow it’s just way better. And steering away from this failed food analogy, I’d go so far as to say this musical sect could more easily be defined under minimal than under electro, although my opinion is likely to beg a rebuttal.

Bass Kleph

I suppose artists like DeadMau5 and his latest BSOD, The Royal Rumble, and even Herve (especially alongside Sinden), have all veered more toward this side of the argument more than the other, however, the audio craftsmanship of Australia’s Bass Kleph brings it all home. Presenting to you: The epitome of blip-tastic bounce.

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Twocker – Stitch (Bass Kleph Remix)

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Stupid Fresh – Get The Fuck Up (Bass Kleph Remix)

Part Two

As for the other side of our post apocalyptic electro world, well, that’s where I think all the Treasure Fingers, Twelves, Dangers, Van She Tech‘s and DatA‘s of our time fit in. They’re the guys who’ve taken the exact opposite approach to their furthering of electro, and have chosen to cram every last bit of harmonic Daft Punk influence into an already brimming sound, in order to create tunes that are nearly impossible to fully comprehend. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I don’t think I’ve ever heard the same song twice. (Figuratively speaking of course).

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Big Gipp – Hot (Treasure Fingers Remix)

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Rapture – House Of Jealous Lovers (Tenderlions Remix)

It’s the Rapture! Again!

I’m usually not one with much too say in the way of hip hop, but I must admit that this post (and my life for that matter) have had some real hip hop trends as of late. I made a comment a while back, about the time that Ed Banger’s lone hip hop act DSL made an appearance, about how it seems as though France and the US have seemingly begun to swap music tastes (we’ve handed rap over to them in exchange for gnarly electro), and three months later, I’m only further convinced. Check it out:

DatA

A month or so ago, the venerable ol’ Ekler’o’shock artist known as DatA released his first single in quite some time, and to more than a bit of acclaim: His collaboration with Sebastian Grainger of DFA79[R.I.P.] put enough class into his classic French electro to push his beats to the top of The Hype Machine (and all those other lists that tell us what’s up), and all of us were most definitely thinking, “Wow, props to that kid. He’s come a long way from Aerius Light.” I think it’s safe to say, however, that what we definitely were not thinking was, “I can’t wait for the hip hop version of this track.”

“What!?”

Shh shh shh child, this is nothing to get upset about. I assure you, he’s pulled it off quite well. (In fact it seems as though DatA is quickly becoming one of those artists for whom you resign all forms of doubt and simply allow yourself to trust that whatever their endeavor be, it shall be phenomenal.) Essentially, the guy’s emulated a version of the synthesizer that has been the [oh so cliched] backbone of awful American hip hop for too many years, and combined it with a remarkably executed auto-tune effect on Grainger‘s voice (think Romanthony’s part on Daft Punk’s One More Time) to stitch together a track that’s both fresh (for the French) and refreshing (for the US). It’s also probably worthwhile to mention that the hip hop style of Rapture Pt II really brings out an element of sadness and desperation in Grainger‘s voice that was partly masked by the thick electro waves of the original; It really does give the lyrics a bit of an impact boost.

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MP3: DatA – Rapture Pt II

So we’ve hit the hip hop side of disco, now how about the disco side of hip hop?

Aesop Rock

I realize I’m more than a bit behind in commenting on a track from way back in the 2007 era, but some strange form of supernatural has thrust the following across my path so many times in the last week or so that I simply can’t help but share. I’m sure that if you aren’t already familiar with the fast rising act known as Aesop Rock, that you’ve at least heard the name. Aesop has, in the past year or so, been summoned to participate in projects as large as Nike’s Running Man (the very same project for which A-Trak just finished a piece), so naturally, there’s no need to doubt that he has more than a bit going for him, but because that’s likely not enough motivation to get yourself down to Amoeba to pick up his record, I’m going to take the liberty of sharing with you the track that’s been on repeat on my playlist for days. It’s clear that the roots lie in hip hop, but a gently driving 1-2 beat pushes the feel closer to something that could easily have come from Kid Sister, or one of the many other hiptronica fusions we’ve been seeing so much of. I’ll leave you with this piece of advice, if you’re planning on traveling anywhere sometime in the near future, I highly recommend that you reserve the first impression of this track for your journey; I’ve found that it does an excellent job of making the wonder and beauty of everyday life astonishingly apparent.

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MP3: Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass

Much more to come later today.

Disco’s Nooks and Crannies

If this post were an animal, it’d definitely be a mouse.

Somehow, in the last five days that I’ve gone letting myself become consumed by every possible distraction, I’ve somehow still managed to stumble across some of the most fascinating, imaginative, and ever so incredibly fresh tracks that I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s almost like finding cheese in a little nook in the wall. I do think that most of us are, by now, probably at least a little turned off when a so called “new” track starts off with the oh so familiar:

– Kick
– Snare/Kick
– Kick
– WeirdNoise/Snare/Kick
– Repeat…. for four minutes

Son of Dave

With this in consideration, I’m genuinely proud to say that this next tune, which is presented to you through a tag-team effort between London beatbox-blues/former Crash Test Dummies member Benjamin Darvill (working under the name Son of Dave), and Michel BoomBass, the French mastermind notorious for his work as one half of the the Cassius duo, is extraordinarily new, in the true sense of the word. It does indeed fully qualify as a part of the disco genre, however, the blues-heavy sounds of the original track are left undistorted, and are used as the backbone of the remix, which slides the overall impression more towards the dance-rock type tunes that we’ve been hearing recently from artists like DatA, VHS or Beta, Klaxons and Digitalism. In short, you likely won’t be spinning this track for a club full of electro-heads, but that’s not to say you won’t feel like buying yourself a pair of green American Apparel underwear and dancing around your room for a good long while.

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Son of Dave – Hellhound (BoomBass Jack on the Rock remix)

And just incase that didn’t do you in, here’s a little toss in that’s sure to push you over the top. Clearly, Mr. Darvill has some class in his taste of music.

Black Holes

Having deviated slightly from the usual disco theme, I must now overcompensate with a couple producers from nearly the opposite end of the spectrum: Having recently been called “the next Crookers” by Hot Biscuits, it’s kinda difficult to deny that Chicago’s Black Holes probably have less than a month or two before they’re throwing all that anxious youth to the floor at Cinespace. Black Holes […edit…] have adopted a certain style (one that I’ve been calling Minimalectro) which certainly does give them a Crookers-ish feel, but more than that, it’s got that bit of a spark that one tends to notice occasionally; The one that, for some strange reason, keeps you looking for more, despite the fact that you can’t quite figure out what it is that you even like about it in the first place. Point being: you’ll soon be hearing quite a bit more from the windy city.

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Black Holes – I’m a Beast

Digitalism’s Latest Release – Clearly an Influenced Sound

Hopefully your RSS feed doesn’t have an alert on it–I’m up far too early to be posting this, and I’d hate to subject all you nocturnals to undeserved daylight exposure, but I’m afraid the spirits of disco have spoken.

Digitalism

I was recently exposed to Digitalism‘s newly released (and quite under-hyped, if you ask me) single, entitled “Taken Away”, and have since begun to lose myself in the melting pot of sounds they’ve crafted. Digitalism has always been known for a sound that’s slightly more unusually influenced than most; Their initial fame came due to a remix of “The White Stripes”, and following the same trail, its clear that many of their original works (I Want I Want, Pogo) are almost more rock than electronic. However, upon listening to “Taken Away”, I’ll be honest and say that I not prepared for the thoroughly nostalgic and expertly blended sounds that graced my ears: More than anything, I am reminded of of the erie, melancholy chord progressions and echoey vocals of French experimental artists, Air; A breakdown toward the middle of the track will have every last hair on your body standing up on end, as if you were listening to Premiers Symptomes for the very first time. On top of that, a few quick arpeggiated synth licks are stimulating in ways similar to that of the Ekleroshock artists (Danger, Data), and if you listen close, you might even be able to make out sounds similar to that of The Alan Parson Project (or some similar 80’s phenomenon). The work is truly a well thought out and elegantly executed piece of imagination and influence, and to take such a step back through the history of electronic music is refreshing to say the least. In short, my expectations for
Digitalism
‘s pending album release have been pushed even higher.

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Digitalism – Taken Away

DatA – This Genre Meshing is Relentless

I know I’ve done a lot of eighties revival coverage in the last couple weeks, and I hate to keep poking at a topic that’s probably long been dubbed “old news,” but I feel that this latest development has once again made a bit of commentary necessary.

DatA

By now we’re all no doubt quite familiar with the distinct post-retro style of Ekleroshock giant, Danger, and therefor it probably isn’t all too shocking that the saw-tooth electro label mate, DatA, has adopted a similar style. What is surprising, however, is the fact that the French producer has managed to summon the likes of Sebastian Grainger (former vocalist and drummer for Death From Above 1979) to take part in his latest (available as of last week) single release, “Rapture.” Upon listening, I immediately thought it rather strange that both former members of DFA79 have now officially converted from their previous distortion-happy endeavors to poppy, synthy electronic music; fortunately, I was soon after presented with the opportunity to ask JFK of MSTRKRFT (DFA79‘s other member) for his perspective on the unusual conversion:

What do you think about Sebastian Grainger‘s teaming up with Data? It seems rather unusual that both DFA79 guys would quit rock and move to electronic. But then again, I suppose the genre is pretty irresistible as of late.

JFK: “rock music in its present form is dead. pounding away at it is like going to university to study latin. like, its fine if that what you want to do but what satisfaction can a creative person derive from doing something thats already overdone?”

As sad as it is to admit, I’d be lying if I said I could deny any part of that statement. It seems that the reason electronic styles have become so popular in recent years is not because of some sudden massive public discovery of the fact that dancing is fun. Rather, (and please, if you disagree, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this one) I believe that the migration between genres is due to a yearning for new sounds. As epic and emotional as the wail of a crying guitar sounds, fifty years of repetition has proven enough to dry up the past. I see a day, not too far into the future, where the guitar that used to lay under the Christmas tree has been replaced by a stack of software and a copy of Pro-Tools.
Strange? Yes. Sad? Yes? Exciting? You betcha.

And as for the actual track that’s sparked this digression: It’s golden. As much as I hate to admit it, Grainger‘s vocals over DatA‘s vintage synth sounds and pumping compression are *grits teeth* quite possibly better than they ever were in DFA79. The original DatA track unlocks emotional tones in his voice that I had previously never noted, and on top of that, the remix gives the track a bit of an interesting indie feel. Needless to say, they’re both well worth your time.

Note: The original track has a strong reputation of being torn down pretty fast from the blogs, so I suggest you grab it while you can, and once you decide you love it, that you pick up your own copy from Fnac music.

DatA – Rapture

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DatA – Rapture (Pacific! remix)