Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Weekly, Volume Seven (part four)

Part four of this week's 2005 music round up is dedicated to electronic music in varying degrees. I might get around to one last post before my July hiatus, but if not, this is adieu until after Le Grande Boucle.

Everything Ecstatic (Four Tet)
Prior to this record's release, much was made by the alternative press (and Keiran Hebden himself) about the artist's departure from the "folktronica" sound he cultivated so well on Rounds. "Joy," the opening track of Hebden's latest album, does indeed take the listener to far less organic pastures, filled with electronic dance beats and an unrelenting bass line. But hints of the old Four Tet remain, as Hebden can't resist adding a quick shamisen(?) melody in the midst of all the digitized bombast. Generally the rest of the album is structured along similar lines: more danceable, yes, but not to the point of sacrificing melody and songcraft. On the whole, it's a great compromise. Choice Cut: "Smile Around the Face."

OK Cowboy (Vitalic)
Is this the album that Daft Punk's Human After All should have been? Maybe. I don't know. Nor do I care. The old Parisians can probably coast on the laurels from Homework and Discovery for more years than I care to care about. Anyway, Vitalic is also from France. But it's just one guy instead of two. "Poney Part One" is the second track on OK Cowboy, and it's got that processed bass line thing that Daft Punk do. I don't care who made it though. It's a great hard house song, and fairly representative of the album's sonics: hard-driving, chock full of loopy bass lines and arpeggiated melodic themes to keep your pulse racing; and when it's time to kick, hot damn does Vitalic no how to kick! Pretty strong hooks too (check out "U and I," which is somewhat reminiscent of Ulrich Schnauss) You definitely want this record spinning at your next Eurotrash-styled hoe-down. Choice Cut: "Trahison," or maybe "La Rock One."

Before the Dawn Heals Us (M83)
The Franco-electro invasion continues! Formerly a duo, M83 became basically one man (Anthony Gonzalez) for the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts, which was a masterful showcase of intricately layered synth-based electonica. Before the Dawn Heals Us doesn't quite attain the same heights as its lush, elegant predecessor, but the record remains a worthy addition to one's collection. There are quite a few good tracks to be heard, but the record is less cohesive overall. Interestingly, where Dead Cities evoked an almost pastoral feel, Dawn seems to revel in creating much more urban soundscapes -- M83's sound has become slightly more urgent and imposing, fitting with the chilled aura of the album's cover art. Choice Cut: "Lower Your Headlights to Die with the Sun."


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