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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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.

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)