While the pugilists of pop fight over auto-tuned eurotrash ‘songs’ and the most bowel-bothering off-the-peg basslines, something totally contrary is going on in the underground. As is always the way with the dominant sounds of the day, the counter-culture will not just shun the status quo, but steer their ship as far away as possible. Sometimes this contrarian behaviour is intentional. Usually, it's due to some unconscious decision to create something that feels genuinely authentic to the moment of time they’re living in. It isn’t that the womps and clomps of modern rnb-gone-dubstep-and-back-again is anything but true and honest to the current pocket-lining trends, it’s just that, amidst the borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered 90s, what it really lacks is any semblance of “now”. For all of Calvin Harris’ wonderful re-spoolings of 90s floor-fillers, Skrillex’s ravey nu-metal EDM-dubstepperie and Guetta’s endless guttural thudding, there’s little new or modern to be found, they merely pluck the low-hanging fruits of nostalgia and regurgitate it with a few club-crowd-pleasing-radio-friendly hooks that rarely stray from the formula’s that spawned the Ibiza Anthems of 1996. You can pick any point in history and the sound undulating and being celebrated in the bowels of culture, was everso different to that which shifted-units or got
obsese bums on arena seats. It’s the same as it ever was...
Our counter-culture heroes will always want to make things which sound like the environments we
wish to live in and that makes the most of the technology at our disposal. It’s sensible and pretty logical that any expression in response to the status quo will be one that denies or at the very least ignores the existence of that which it shuns...
I say all this because i is so perfectly now. No, not the now that those who dwell on the topsoil would recognise. Nor do I mean that Eaux (formerly known as the Sian Alice Group) are a pop band or renown cult heroes (this is only their second release), but there is something to what they (and Chromatics, and New Look, and various others) do that seems so at odds with the numb-throbbing-thrum of so-called modern music. It's music that seems almost distant from itself. It drifts and trickles and then swells in a semi-meditative manner. Rather than rumbling bass, these songs swoop and soar, whilst all the while the guitars languish, lost in some post-shoegaze dreamscape.
Most of i feels like a cousin of dance music that had an aunt that was massively into sound installation art. On each of the tracks here, Eaux take the gentle grace of various recent ambient and drone movements and fuse them with something widescreen and euphoric. There are elements of Oneohtrix Point Never's sci-fi dreaminess off-setting the spiralling dizzy-fizz of Factory Floor and Fuck Buttons. There’s that similar chill and a made-you-gasp awe that you hear on tracks from Fever Rey to White Hinterland to Kate Wax and beyond. It's cold and crafted, rather than knowingly cool, and it never feels forced. Everything about it is hypnotic and it draws you a little deeper with every spin.
Taking this EP apart critically isn’t what it was made for, but it sure as hell helps my sanity to know that this exists, and that there’s a groundswell of elegant electronic music coming to a blog near you in 2013.
7Sean Adams's Score