We don’t cover dance and electronic music all the time on Pigeons & Planes, but when we do, we bring you the best of the best. Each month, Plugged will take a look at certain aspects of the electronic landscape, filling you in on the artists, scenes, and music that you should be paying attention to, whatever your taste.
For Plugged’s debut, it made sense to look at an odd medium in the electronic/dance scene: the album. Ever since the days of disco’s extended mixes, these genres have lived—and thrived—in a single format. That’s not to say that the album in electronic music has been a waste, as producers like Aphex Twin, Moby, and Roni Size have proven that you can make effective longplayers in an electronic format. There’s just a gap between the dance producers who are making true statements with their albums and those who are just taking their five latest “bangers” and putting mediocre tracks alongside them.
This week, Plugged looks at four albums that are scheduled to drop in the first quarter of 2015 that should have fans (and those on the outskirts) of electronic music assured that the album format is far from dead.
Brodinski – Brava
Release Date: “Early 2015”
Label: Parlophone / Warner
Brodinski is in an interesting space. His Bromance imprint has been keen on showcasing the “hard” side of techno, which does exactly what it says on the tin. He contributed to Kanye West’s Yeezus (working on two of that album’s roughest cuts, “Black Skinhead” and “Send it Up”), and has spent the last two years blending his diabolical sound with his sincere love of rap music. If you dug his mesmerizing Purple Ride mixtape or the material he produced for Gangsta Boo, you should be be ready for Brava, his debut album that’s set to drop in the very near future.
This is what the mainstream acts will be cribbing from over the next few years.
From the chopped & screwed ending of the Chill Will-featuring “Calculator” to the brooding “Warm Up” (which features a truly impressive Slim Thug feature), Brodinski doesn’t waste your time. Brava is the sound of someone truly realizing how to properly blend their influences while forging ahead with a sound that’s unique, but shares characteristics with a number of different lanes in today’s music scene, from the maniacal turn up of a Travi$ Scott to the abrasive excellence of a Gesaffelstein.
There isn’t a lot of room on this one for “radio singles,” even if Young Scooter, iLoveMakonnen, and others bring out the best in these tracks. We’re just hoping that people don’t sleep on what Brodinski’s done; at the very least, soak this in and take note—this is what the mainstream acts will be cribbing from over the next few years.
Joker – The Mainframe
Release Date: February 16, 2015
Seeing as we’re a) almost a full four years since Joker released his debut album The Vision and b) a full year into a new batch of producers implementing the Purple WOW sound that Joker perfected with his early material, 2015 is the perfect time for Joker to unleash his sophomore project, one he’s called The Mainframe. He’s not been quiet; his 2014 EP Head Top presented some exciting movements for heads who love that “bass music” sound. Joker’s a visionary, and can craft some truly unique sounds and melodies with the best of them. It’s hard to doubt him, but we imagine many were skeptical of what he’d be bringing to the table… until Annie Mac dropped “Midnight” on her Radio 1 program.
With that first single, it was as if the heavens opened up and the good Lord himself descended to slap the everloving shit out of you for even questioning if Joker could come correct. With a sly Jennifer Lopez sample and a whole mess of #feels, Joker reemerged on the scene with a vengeance, and a late 2014 anthem for the purple heads out there. Interesting features abound on The Mainframe, a project Joker has described as “a story… each track key changes and blends into each other. It’s like an emotional, grimey, cinematic, electronic, rnb-ish mindscape.” We can’t wait.
DJ Clent – Last Bus to Lake Park
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Label: Duck N Cover
While many fall in love with Chicago’s juke and footwork sounds because of the magic the artists conjure up within that 160BPM lane, the incredibly prolific nature of many of these producers should be noted as well. DJ Clent, a veteran in the scene, was a part of the first wave of footwork producers to get embraced on a worldwide level, via his work for Planet Mu or alongside TEKLIFE heads like Rashad and Spinn. He has a keen ear for rhythm, and can really flip a sample on its ear. 2014 saw him drop his Me and My MPC EP in January, followed by a five-track EP for the legendary Planet Mu.
2015 sees Clent coming correct with his latest album, throwing anything that sticks into the footwork sound, from a slick G-Funk melody (“The Wickedness”) to a Super Nintendo theme (“Super Mario World,” which is dedicated to DJ Rashad’s memory). Clent doesn’t shy away from incorporating older sounds in his material, but he makes sure to keep everything as progressive and banging as always. Rashad might’ve left this world way too soon, but the Chicago footwork scene shows no signs of slowing down, and Clent’s a great example of the scene’s ability to pay homage to what’s come before while paving the way for the future.
Mumdance & Logos – Proto
Release Date: February 16, 2015
Back in 2013, Tectonic put out a 12″ from Mumdance and Logos (“Legion” b/w “Proto”). If we knew then that that release would spawn such an excellent album as Proto, we would’ve wished it’d dropped sooner. Sprawled out over 10 tracks (which do include those gems), Proto is the sound of experimentation.
Proto embodies the true spirit of the dance.
Mumdance and Logos draw inspiration from techno and jungle, but embody the spirit of those times when the earliest of “rules” were being written, only to be broken. Cuts like “Dance Energy (89 Mix)” and “Chaos Engine” are perfect tracks to sweat your pain away to on the dancefloor, but for different reasons; “Dance Energy” hits you full force with a memorable melody and funky percussion, while “Chaos Engine” attacks your core, daring you to keep up with its razor sharp twists and turns.
When asked about their forthcoming album, Mumdance and Logos spoke on the duality of the project, as well as where they gained influence:
Proto for us was all about trying to make electronic music which was directly engineered for the dance floor, but intricate or hypnotic enough to listen to at home. Although the resulting material forms a coherent whole, we drew influence from a wide spread of historical periods of flux in the hardcore continuum; typically these times produced the most interesting music. These “proto” periods when people weren’t trying to fit into an overruling genre or idiom, are most interesting to us–there was no rulebook. We decided to use primarily old technology (samplers, synths, fx units) to make the album in order to get the color of sound which resonated with us most, but in keeping with the futuristic ideals of bleep, proto jungle & tech-step tried to twist it into something new.
There can be a lot of inspiration gained from such an engrossing project. There aren’t too many projects that champion an older aesthetic, challenging listeners (and peers) to rethink their strategies and let their freak flags fly. Proto embodies the true spirit of the dance, and does so without sounding corny or plastic. Something truly for your mind, body, and your soul.