Dexterous Material: Edition No.5
Things are getting weird. Whether this is a result of the exponential rise in music being made as of late or everyone is just getting bored, things are starting to take a serious turn for strange. It's 2012, we're coming in on the home stretch when earth is supposed to implode anyways right? Might as well make it as odd as ever and if you're lucky, people might just like it.
Whereas some are experimenting, many are sticking to what they do best – thankfully. One of which is electro gods Justice, and friends. Their recent EP New Lands features five power threaded remixes of the single from Audio, Video, Disco which was released earlier this year. Standout tracks are remixes by Sebastian and A-Trak. Redundancy is always a concern when several remixes are showcased of an already great track. In this case each track differs enough from each other that the entire EP is listenable in one fell swoop. Sebastian takes a slower more dramatic approach that picks up towards the end and incorporates analog warmth, a sound that he is loved for. Less energetic than usual, more like a revamped version of 'H.A.L'. A-Trak sticks to his roots as well. Severe and echoing at the same time, highly danceable and addictive.
Some bands have just always been weird. This is the draw of Yeasayer, who recently took a little more of an electronic approach on their song and video for 'Longevity' due out on their next album Fragrant World, set to be released August 21st. Directed by Yoshi Sodeoka, the video vignette is an explosion of color dives and jumps, basically a visual form of Chris Keating's vocals. The bass might be the most surprising element, a bit heavier than normal for Yeasayer, but it carries the track and eventually melts together beautifully with violin pieces that finish up with a pleasant surprise. Yeasayer seems to be incorporating more pop-influences into their work as time goes on, Odd Blood die-hard fans may have a hard time accepting this, but Fragrant World seems to have a bright future.
If anyone knows about suspense, it's Canadian duo Purity Ring, who has been torturing fans by releasing singles at a seemingly painful pace. Their debut album Shrines is due out July 24th, fans can finally breathe and sink into the album as a whole. It's witch-house gone… good. Surprisingly. The whole world of witch-house has always been a bit odd and ridiculed. Purity Ring channels a different respect, along with quite a bit of attention. Megan James' voice is ethereal and innocent when paired over dark synths and slightly overused kick and snare drums. They keep it weird yet approachable, toeing the line between "What the hell is this," and "Who is this, I need to know." My only concern is how much further they can go. Already the four singles that have been released are painstakingly similar. All fantastic tracks, but where can they take it from here - while keeping the distinct elements that have carved their sound in the scene.
Another old favorite Passion Pit is also on the verge of a new album, Gossamer, set to be released July 23rd. The single 'I'll be alright' is classic Passion Pit. They are among those sticking with what they know, and doing it well. Sounding somewhat like an explosion of rainbows, they keep with the slightly pop-esque sound they're known for while Michael Angelakos vocals soar higher than we might have wanted them to. But it's alright, the track has the unexpected depth in short bursts and seems to be a good indicator of music to come.
What is it with DJs and dinosaurs? Julio Bashmore has been busy, apparently. This year he founded his own record label: Broadwalk Records. He also has lightly sprinkled some disco on his new track 'Troglodytes', as well as making it available for download. Bashmore has been catching the eye of several respected names in the past few years, Claude VonStroke among the most impressive. He has smooth execution, and slowly eases into each element on 'Troglodytes', while changing it up throughout. House music is an unchanging world. From the fans, the feel, the style, and the people that love it, house remains steady in the electronic world. A constant that can be relied on.
Another dinosaur lover is surprise: Diplo. If anyone knows about getting weird, staying weird, and overall oddities that happen to turn into worldwide sensations, it's Wesley Pentz. He recently released Express Yourself, his first solo album since the 2004 Florida. It was about time. We Diplo lovers are selfish, and an entire album of him was exactly what we wanted. Unlike Florida, this is not a record to sit and listen to. Express Yourself is audio motion, soaked in moombahton and dripping with ridiculous talent such as the collaboration Lazerdisk Party Sex. He's a pioneer, leading the masses tweet by tweet with his insanity and wild new ideas that no one can seem to resist.
I have to wonder if music is getting more and more strange because of the sheer volume of music being forced down our throats daily. Distinguishing your own sound as a band seems to be on the same level of difficulty as attempting to solve a rubix cube while excessively drunk. What I'm getting at is a lot of people are making the same music, and maybe in order to be noticed at all you have to get as outlandish as fans will accept – and hope for the best. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. Let's get weird!
I'm tapping this into my phone as I hurtle through Germany, one of Kraftwerk's beloved autobahns easing my passage across Europe at a steady 170km/h. By the end of the week I'll have travelled through a further five countries, emailed/Skyped/Facetimed people from seven more and received at least one miss-sold PPI call whilst traversing a mountainside, 2.5km above sea level. [read more]
Fashionably late as ever, Dexterous Material returns for its first edition of 2014, clutching its head and mumbling something about never touching Austrian rum ever again. Yes January may be a month for quiet recovery and spiritual (and maybe even colonic) cleansing but in the high octane world of electronic dance music there’s no let off. [read more]
When asked to takeover this column I had to ask myself first just what is 'electronic music'. As we hurtle into 2013 it's a strange time to be a fan of the all encompassing genre. In theory we've never had it so good, EDM bestrides the known universe with everyone from the most hardcore of rappers to pop's princesses wanting to swaddle themselves in the perceived cool of dance music's all conquering midrange fuzz. [read more]