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.”
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.
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?
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.
Fake Blood – Think I Like It
Let’s face it: There’s virtually no point in doing a piece on The Bloody Beetroots latest (and massively leaked) album, “Romborama.” [Dim Mak] Though I did consider it for a brief moment, I came to realize rather quickly (after having scoured the countless other pages offering the leaked material) that the opinions people have to offer (or at least the ones expressed in writing) regarding the style, intent, and success of the infamous Italians are scattered about in nearly every possible direction, and as such, whatever “wisdom” I could potentially offer as a result of an article would likely be deemed callous and assuming by the large percentage of people who do not share the exact same opinion that I do.
As a result, I’ve become content with the notion that there simply cannot be a unified perception of these outlandish noisemakers. Where bands like the Beatles (I know I know, outdated reference. I chose it because of its irrefutability.) or, as a more contemporary example, Justice, can generally be considered “revolutionary” and “talented” whether or not you actually like their tunes, The Bloody Beetroots are forever destined to be those two guys that either ruined, or revolutionized the disco scene.
So here’s what I’m proposing. Take a good hard listen (if you haven’t already) to a few of the more enterprising tracks found on Romborama, and then if you please, let us all know exactly how you feel about the direction The Beetroots haven chosen to embody. Is it brash and unnecessarily noisy? Are they simply cultivating a field of sound and putting a beat to whatever they can get their machines to spew out? Or are they still the praiseworthy, pioneering geniuses that took control of electro back in 2006 and showed us how to really “do it hard?”
At the end of 2008, I was fully convinced that there could not possibly be any other way to exploit the classic “continuous build” model for a track. (The one where a seemingly endless upward pitch bend serves as the fundamental element of the track) Though I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment, there was some point in time between the releases of MSTRKRFT‘s VUVUVU (one of the first to employ the style) and Sebastian‘s Motor (the ultimately simplified and most watered down version of it possible) wherein the repetitiveness of the tracks led us all to assume that someone must simply have leaked the book of electronic music formulas, and that innovation was no longer an important part of music production.
Unfortunately for us (and mind you, when I say us, I’m referring to us tasteful folk to whom disco expands beyond the confines of a mere genre), the bedroom producers of the world took an extraordinarily long time to catch on to the lack of a market for this kind of work, and so for nearly the entirety of last year, all but a select few have been flooding the net with their obnoxious 4 bar pitch bends and nearly drowning our ears in an onslaught of overplayed sound.
With all this in mind, one must admit it seems a task of epic proportions to be able to create something derived from this same style, and at the same time keep it interesting and new within its small corner of a sub-genre. In fact, being the skeptic that I am, if you’d asked me a few weeks ago, there’s a good chance I would have dismissed it as impossible, however, this new wave digital underground of ours never fails to prove me wrong.
Despite the fact that their entire single (appropriately titled “Death Rave”) consists of nothing more than a series of escalations and drops, Dim Mak‘s newly signed artist, Motor (and no, as far as I know, there is no connection between the artist and the aforementioned Sebastian track), has ripped a whole new meaning into the word “banger.” I can’t possibly explain where on earth the sounds they’re getting come from; perhaps their strange location (half Paris, half New York City), brought forth a sort of convoluted set of influences. Or perhaps they’ve just got a thing for making hipsters feel compelled to rip their hair out in a confused state of ecstasy. Either way, they’ve challenged the devil and accomplished the impossible, and their music is the evidence. Brace yourself: Death Rave brings a whole new meaning to the word “disgusting.”
At the risk of forever being labeled as a complete fool, I’m going to be 100% honest and say that prior to the release of Felix Cartal‘s Skeleton EP, my expectations for the Canadian boy could barely be lifted off the ground. I’m not quite sure why, however, I feel it’s safe to say that my insensitive assumption could not have been entirely my fault; Up until quite recently, his tour fliers have depicted him as “opener material” by consistently placing him second to artists like MSTRKFT, Steve Aoki, and LA Riots, a spot that would likely have otherwise been filled by Them Jeans or Dan Oh and the like. Not that I have anything against the guys; It’s just that they’ve all been supporting each other as remix artists for such an extensive amount of time, that it has become unusual to regard any of them as an actual recording artist, capable of releasing a fully fledged and independent album.
Needless to say, every one of my assumptions was shattered and surpassed on levels that I didn’t even have a clue existed. Not only has the young wrecka created an EP that embraces and fully displays the sounds of modern dance music, but he’s also made the art of innovation stylish once again. That is, where I expected to hear a collection of four songs that all resembled his (and everyone else’s) past work, I was startled to experience the charitable use of complex rhythms, character of sound ranging from his trademarked banger synth to lighter, poppier noises not dissimilar to that of Simian Mobile Disco, and elegant eight bar chord progressions that work hard to draw every last piece of energy possible out of those 24 bits. Long story short, it took Felix less than a minute to establish himself in my mind as far more than just a Reason remixer. Skeleton EP is wonderful. Felix is wonderful. Dancing is wonderful. Group hug.
Considering the poor boy put so much time and energy into this EP, I can’t bring myself to post more than a single song. If you’ve fallen as deeply in love as I have, spend the four dollars to grab a copy, and of course, don’t forget to make your way out to Cinespace tonight for the Dim Mak Tuesdays “Skeleton” Release Party!
You know what the best park about the music industry is? As counterintuitive as it may seem, the highlight of it all–the selling point that causes it to attract such wonderfully colorful people–is its failure to have become organized in any way at all. Make a comparison to the other (largely lamer) forms of media out there: You’ll notice that film, for example, looks like a prison compared to music, what with its organizations dedicated to delivering “official” ratings and awards and such. What gives a corporation the right to tell me how good my movie is on the one to ten scale. Hasn’t art always been subjective?
Now you’re likely itching to point out that I’ve failed to notice the giant corporations that surround the music industry as well, and you’re certainly not wrong in letting your mind wander so, however, you’re failing to factor in one important observation: the music industry is awful. Point and case: iTunes can give my favorite tracks whatever rating they want, and it’s not going to mean a thing to any of us. Danger’s 11h30, undoubtedly a stepping stone on the path to electro as we know it, was given 1.5 of 5 stars upon its iTunes release, and all this says is that Steve Jobs (and the loyal fan base of tone-deaf tools which he’s managed to create by means of the iPod) doesn’t care for electronic music, which (I can only assume) doesn’t play much of a role in choosing whether or not to buy a particular track. Naturally, this lack of agreed upon ratings keeps music, and the creation thereof a dynamic process: People (at least the ones who care enough to realize that songs that are played on the radio are not necessarily required listening) have never been restricted to the cut of tunes deemed “appropriate” by some hypothetical checklist. Needless to say, we’ve been quite lucky.
So He Just… Plays Records?
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you either are, have been interested in, or know someone that has decided to seek enlightenment through the art of dj’ing. That being the case, chance also says that at some point in recent history, one of your friends (likely one with less than half as many cool points as you) has made the foolish mistake of asking you the forbidden question: What exactly does a dj do, and why does he get so much credit for it?
Of course, the intolerant anger starts to well up in your stomach. How could someone even ask that question? Isn’t it obvious just how much of a phenomenon it is that a single man can capture the hearts and minds of musically ignorant crowds on a nightly basis, purely through his use of music? Does this ignorant inquisitor really think his record playe–ahem–iPod can give him that same experience that a DJ can? Unfortunately, the answers are no, and sadly, yes, respectively. And the worst part is, you’ve got nothing to say that’ll make him think any different; Or at least you didn’t, until now.
What does a dj do that makes him so special? How is spinning a record, (or to be more politically correct with these a-changing times, pressing play on a midi keyboard) such a respectable deed, and what exactly is is that keeps the creatures of the technicolored night so faithfully returning? It is the plain and simple fact that no matter how many DJ sets he’s studied, and no matter how many times he’s encountered success in the past, there simply is no correct and guaranteed-to-work method of DJing. In contrast with all other forms of media, a DJ cannot simply make a playlist out of fivestar-ed iTunes songs and rest assured knowing his audience will be satisfied. Rather, DJ’ing is the art of adapting to an audience, and convincing them that though their minds tell them that they aren’t particularly fond of a particular song, that their bodies perceive every minute of it as exactly what they want to hear.
The Bloody Beetroots & Steve Aoki
So how does all this relate to anything at all? It’s quite simple, really. See, in a scene where musical taste is so incredibly inconsistent, it becomes important to get a grasp on the general reception of each particular release, despite the enormous difficulty associated with doing so. For example, releases like the latest from Simian Mobile Disco are frequently propelled into a massive collection of opposing poles, comprised of those in love with, and those disgusted by the band’s new direction, which makes it difficult to assess a particular individual’s response. There are, however, exceptional cases, one of which happens to be the latest Dim Mak release entitled “Warp”. When a track has been featured in a mix tape by just about every major artist before its actual release, has been remixed by that same lot, as well as by quite a few lesser known producers, has seen the attention of more than one false music video, and (here’s the kicker) has an official music video that grants us the privilege of staring at Steve Aoki‘s screaming face for a solid 20 seconds, it becomes clear that there shall be no controversy over the response; A thousand sweating bodies is all the five star rating I need.
Although, whether he even left in the first place, I’m not quite sure. The guy’s approach on music is certainly a strange one. While most prominent artists (granted most fail to withstand the test of time) make a conscious attempt to produce music similar to that which has already found celebrity within the disco scene, Oizo has chosen to cling to the sound he pioneered nearly a decade ago, and to allow it to drip through its hypothetical IV so as to maintain a constant presence within the club scene.
Brilliance, consistency, and a wicked beard. What more can you ask for?
One last thing. I feel the need to give my greatest respects to those who have somehow managed to actually read this highly nonsensical post. Seeing as much of my writing makes so little sense upon looking back, having done so seems a most notable accomplishment.
While there are what seems like thousands of musical genres out there, and each and every person has their own personal taste and preference, in reality, there are really only two kinds of people: those who are satisfied with listening to their music through Youtube videos on the internet, and those who aren’t, and considering you’ve taken the time to either navigate to this page, or perhaps be directed here through our beloved Hype Machine, I’d put money on the fact that you, my friend, are probably one of those people who isn’t–or at least weren’t.
See, several months ago, our faithful, electro loving community (which tends to get its highs off of distorted saw tooths, rather than the more conventional inebriates) discovered one particular video who’s contents proved considerably more alluring than most, and though we certainly made our best attempt to convince ourselves to simply be patient for a physical (and therefor admissible) release, the alluring properties such a partially revealed “symphony” so to speak were overwhelming to the point that after only a few days, none of us cared that the crumbly recording was set to the wonderfully entertaining visuals of Audio Surf (a phenomenon of which I’m quite sure we are all aware).
I mention all of this, not in an attempt to bring forth the guilt we’ve likely had suppressed for all these long months, but rather, to provide well deserved relief and reassurance, for as things currently stand, MSTRKRFT’s Fist of God album, which has consumed our lives since nearly a year ago, when we learned that the release date had initially been set for September 08, is finally less than a month away, and that being the case, I have indeed, managed to snag a copy of the track that the above mention video has taught us to love. I must warn you, however: Though the relentless fury of the Fist of God seems to provide more than four minutes of unsurpassable pleasure, it is truly impossible to fully grasp the beauty and finesse of the entire album, as well as this particular track’s place within it, without listening to the entire, unabridged work in its entirety. It does not matter how much or how little you enjoy any and all of the other titles; without the proper sequence, these tracks cannot be heard as they were intended. Thus, I beg you, the truest of MSTRKRFT fans, not to pirate, steal, or take advantage of the album resultant of those many months in the studio. Do not spoil yourself with the improper track order and spacing resultant from these careless, unappreciative leaks. You’ve got less than a month to go. And surely, this little taste will be more than enough to keep your heart racing throughout these last couple days.
MSTRKRFT – Fist of God (Removed by request)
–edit: I suppose it’s for the better–
And just as a little kicker (in case the notion of a closely pending MSTRKRFT release has somehow failed to turn you on), if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, you’ll likely want to look into Dim Mak’s Fist of God release party, which is set to take place the 16th of March at the Roxy on Sunset. Fifteen dollars will not only buy you admission, but it will also grant you the rights to a free copy of the album.