Album: Steve Aoki Wonderland (Dim Mak / Ultra Music)
Release: iTunes exclusive: January 10, 2012 / Everywhere else: January 17, 2012
It’s hard to believe that Wonderland is Steve Aoki’s first proper album release. The acclaimed DJ and cultural curator has been making echoboomers jump around since the mid '90s, when his college dorm “Pickle Patch” parties evolved into the Dim Mak Records imprint and he began breaking acts like Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots, and Klaxons.
On the bonus cut “Misfits” (the only song featuring Aoki’s own vocals, over a bruising track credited to Travis Barker) he’s not exactly singing or rapping—it's more like a primal scream.
Each of the albums’ 16 tracks (counting three iTunes bonus cuts) boasts a different guest artist—starting with the lead single “Earthquakey People” featuring Rivers Cuomo of Weezer fame, who fearlessly confronts inner demons while pledging allegiance to Aoki’s irrepressible electro-groove. Then the bewitching Wynter Gordon takes us up on the roof for a little “smokey smoke” and dirty jokes on “Ladi Dadi.”
Elsewhere LMFAO & NERVO unleash the “party pooper antidote” on “Livin’ My Love” (hint: it's delivered via shot glass). On “Dangerous” WIll.I.Am’s alter-ego “Zuper Blahq” takes the opportunity to call himself a “bad motherfucker,” which wouldn’t really be in keeping withe the BEP brand. Other stand-outs include Rob Roy’s mentally deranged “Ooh,” Angger Demas’ “Steve Jobs,” a vocal-free EDM tour-de-force dedicated to the big man looking down from the iClouds, and “Cudi The Kid” a chill industrial mood piece that finds Cudder reflecting on youthful days.
If there’s a theme to this eclectic dance-floor opus—besides the endless fascination of tortured digital noise—it’s the ferocious power of youth. You can hear it in the pent-up rage of “The Kids Will Have Their Say” featuring Sick Boy with former members of The Exploited and Die Kreuzen (who aren’t quite as young as they used to be). The message is even more unmistakable on the bonus cut “Misfits,” the only song featuring Aoki’s own vocals (over a bruising track credited to Travis Barker). He’s not exactly singing or rapping—it's more like a primal scream. Can't make out exactly what dude is saying but he sounds extremely pissed. So cop this album and then go catch Aoki on tour or you’ll be dead meat.