Most of the electronic music I’ve been listening to lately is admittedly tame compared to the stuff that introduced me to the genre. As much as I’ve loved the new albums by artists like Moderat, Darkside, Machinedrum, and The Field – and I do love those albums – they don’t really hold a flame to the gristle of Atari Teenage Riot or Skinny Puppy.
Honestly, the roughest electronic stuff I’ve been into has been Kanye’s Yeezus. Who else is making material like “On Sight“? Maybe Factory Floor. But as great as their album is, I’m more likely to sit down and zone out when a song is eight minutes long than hang on every second like I do when it’s edited down to 2:30.
Yeezus brings me to Gesaffelstein. It also brings me to Daft Punk, Brodinski, TNGHT, and Arca, but it’s Gesaffelstein who’s really intrigued me the past couple of months. The easiest way for me to describe what I’ve heard so far is that he’s starting where Justice left off and giving it the repetition and razor-sharp edge that techno owns.
His latest single, “Hate or Glory”, starts with a monotonous bouncing synth that collides with a 4/4 scream. It then builds piece by piece adding more distorted synths and high hats sitting way up front. Everything drops twice throughout the song just telling you that what you thought was loud and rough before was tame compared to what’s coming. Boy does the final onslaught deliver. It’s everything from before plus more of everything before. It’s great. It’s about what I felt when I heard “Waters of Nazareth” for the first time.
Back in the days when I used the public library system to build my music collection (I was a master at CD ripping), I came across this group called Atari Teenage Riot. When I listened to their album Burn, Berlin, Burn, my concept of what music could be was drastically changed. I don’t think I liked or dislike them at first (digital hardcore is damn abrasive to be sure); they were like nothing else I’d ever heard. But, as with much of the music I was discovering at that time, I soon learned that the group has broken up a few years prior.
Jump forward some eight years, and now ATR is back! They’ve signed onto Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak record label and have a three month international tour lined up for this fall (starting today in Berlin, Germany.) Check out the awesome new live video for their song “Activate” below:
Willner’s productions are as minimal techno as early-’90s Field precursors Seefeel were minimal rock; they’re not the least bit minimal, at least not sonically, and his approach to techno continues to sound like that of a dream pop/shoegaze freak
four man band, bass/drums, really only needed two people though
about five songs, more from new album (two old, three new)
when the song I love kicks in, it’s amazing, rave-like (ie. over the ice)
people need to calm down when listening to it, you can dance, but please stop spazzing out
played a good mix of new and old songs (I’ll admit I haven’t listened to the new album that much)
great groove “happy house” stretched to about twenty minutes long (from it’s typical twelve), rises and falls, tempo changes, as good of pacing as Daft Punk’s live show, really put the show over-the-top
Unfortunately, Invaders Must Die isn’t the return to hardcore techno greatness that Fat of the Land begun… But don’t let that get you down, because there are some damn good bangers in there. Invaders Must Die is a vast improvement compared to their/his (Liam Flint was the only member to contribute) album, Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned (AONO).
As the first Prodigy album with all three members in 15 years, it’s nice to hear Maxim & Keith’s voices on many of the tracks. I think Liam went overboard with the guest vocalists last time around (Juliette Lewis, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Kool Keith, and The Magnificent Ping Pong Bitches), but it’s clear he’s reeled himself back in with IMD.
Starting with my favorite track on the album, Take Me To The Hospital knocks it out of the park. The traces of rave are clear in the synth stabs from the get-go, and the hard beat is brought in right after a short intro. What separates this track from the rest is that it doesn’t sound like an attempt to recapture some lost glory, it takes what the Prodigy is known for (knock-out beats & rave synths) and pushes it forward.
Immediately after Take Me To The Hospital comes Warrior’s Dance which is probably my #2 song on IMD. Instead of having ravy synths, it’s the vocal sample that gives the listener the hints. The bass line in this song is one that makes you wish you had a wall of subs because it would shake you to your core. It has a nice breakdown about 2/3 of the way through, and as expected, the buildup and climax are spot-on.
Jumping down four tracks, Piranha has the best groove on the album. I seriously can’t stop dancing to this one; it gives me the same feeling as Hot Chip’s Out At The Pictures (I just wanna dance). I could do without the lyrics though… “Teeth, grip, razor sharp / Bites hi-power, tear you apart.”
When I was listening to IMD for the first time, I was getting very worried before I hit Take Me To The Hospital and Warrior’s Dance (they are #5 and #6 respectively). Why? Because the first song Invaders Must Die is good, but all I can think about when I listen to it is how much it sounds like The Prodigy trying to be Pendulum. Not a great first impression. Next is Omen, which is OK and doesn’t sound like Pendulum but just doesn’t sit right.
Then came Thunder, which shouldn’t have any vocals at all. The beats are sick, but I can’t stand Maxim on the track. I also feel that they could have made much more with the synths; they don’t fit with the rest of the song at all. Finally comes Colours, which I thought what going to be the redeemer when it started (sound like Hotride at first), then came in the worst synth line on the album. I hate the synths.
Now that you know the songs I loved and hated, the rest sort of fall into the middle. Run With the Wolves is an excuse to have live drums on a hardcore techno track, World’s On Fire is forgettable (but brings the rave back again), Stand Up confused the hell out of me, and Omen Reprise is just a +1 to the total track count (completely unnecessary).
Look before for a simple breakdown of what I rate each track and what my average would be. I enjoyed this album, and there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be buying tickets when the Prodigy next comes around to LA.
Here is a simple breakdown of what I’d rate each track on a 5 point scale. The average/mean (when converted to a Pitchfork scale) comes to 7.8, which I’d say is pretty respectable (even though I was praying it’d be a perfect 10). But I’m pretty sure that when the Pitchfork review comes out, it’ll be quite a bit lower than what I gave it (update: they gave it a 5.8).