Pair up fall's hottest tracks and the trends behind them.
by Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 11.09.11
Electronic music doesn’t sit still for long. This fall is no exception. So that neither you nor the season’s heaters get lost in the shuffle, we match up a handful of promising releases that turn up the bass, switch up the tempo, ramp up the sci-fi quotient, plug in a guitar or two and, together, capture the latest movements in electronic music.
Kuedo “Salt Lake Cuts” (Planet Mu) + Martyn “Masks” (Brainfeeder)
When Justin Bieber announces he’s working dubstep into his new record, it’s time to move on. That’s exactly what Kuedo and Dutch techstep innovator Martyn have been doing. Vex’d member Kuedo takes a page from the Vangelis songbook for his solo debut, Severant. Heading into Blade Runner territory, his experimental dubstep pairs eerie, celestial synthesizers with a Moroder-style bass line and skittish beats on “Salt Lake Cuts.” It’s bass music gone sci-fi, a snapshot of a promising future.
Similarly, Martyn continues to blaze a trail that pushes bass music into unexpected places on Ghost People. With its mechanical stomp and gritty keys, lead single “Masks” owes more to Detroit than it does dubstep, but there’s still a synergy between the two. It’s a hybrid banger that boasts as much innovation as the latest Toyota Prius.
Major Lazer “Original Don” (Mad Decent) + Dillon Francis “Beautician 2.0” (Mad Decent)
If there’s any one camp that’s really expanding the boundaries of urban electronic music, it’s Diplo’s Mad Decent label. His latest release as zombie-killing cartoon commando Major Lazer sounds as if it were written for a Jamaican marching band until it morphs into a schizophrenic breaks banger with blaring horns, sirens, record scratches and a “run the track” call to arms. If ever there was a follow-up to “Pon Di Floor,” this is it.
A relative newcomer, Dillon Francis may have descended from the hills surrounding L.A. to win over his dinosaur-loving label boss with his dubstep and electro prowess, but it’s his recent forays into the midtempo reggaeton-dancehall-electro amalgam moombahton that are going to make this guy a star. With its ravey synth stabs and infectious melody, his latest, “Beautician 2.0,” is pristine, next-generation booty music.
Chromatics “Kill for Love” (Italians Do It Better) + Bryan Ferry “Alphaville” Todd Terje remix (Virgin)
Birthing the next dance subgenre isn’t always the key to success, or even to freshening up your sound. Johnny Jewel has been rekindling his love of moody ’80s dance rock for years, recording as Desire, Glass Candy and here, as Chromatics. The band scored major airtime on the retro-lovely film Drive, and it has followed that up with “Kill for Love” a pitch-perfect throwback to acid wash, new wave and teen angst.
You won’t see Bryan Ferry, the same glam and new wave icon behind Roxy Music, working dubstep into his repertoire. But that doesn’t mean he’s out of step with the dance beat. For last year’s Olympia, he enlisted help from Groove Armada and Scissor Sisters, and over the course of this year he’s released a string of remixes. The standout comes from quirky Nordic talent Todd Terje, who stretches “Alphaville” with xylophone, parlor piano and Balearic bounce. There’s no pretense here. This is house music to the core, but it doesn’t sound like anything we’ve heard in years.