In a genre sadly losing it’s way, German electro duo Digitalism set a fine example of how things should be done with their deftly imaginative new Lift EP.
Digitalism are the type of act that can easily transcend the house music/dance genre without mutating into a vile commercial beast. Dance and electronic music has become so boring and repetitive over the years, and the emergence of the superstar DJs, whoring themselves out to whatever pop act will have them, has diluted any modicum of creativity in the mainstream scene.
You really have to venture beyond the music television channels on your Sky package to find anything of worth. Thankfully, when you do, the rewards are plentiful. Holy Ghost!, for instance, expand on the headiness and misplaced optimism of 70s New York disco music, while Canadian act Purity Ring make some of the most ethereal and penetrating music you’re likely to hear anywhere.
Digitalism take electro-rock back to basics without cutting the frills. The beats are there, the synths are dominant but the difference is in the imagination, the vision that they create. Indie rock acts can see the merit in their work and identify with it. The Futureheads, White Stripes and Cut Copy among others have sought out the German electronic duo’s remixing expertise. Indeed, exhibiting the possibilities of what can be achieved in terms of sound texture, groove and beats is what Digitalism are all about – in a time when a great degree of dance music suffers from sterility and a lack of depth.
Digitalism’s debut Idealism came out in 2007 and immediately the music press seemed to peg them as an indie-dance crossover with one ear suggesting Daft Punk and Kraftwerk and the other hearing echoes of print darlings New Order and The Cure. While not entirely true, it was a fair assessment . However, comparison can only lead you so far.
Their new EP, Lift, is quite far removed from that, far more anodic in approach, the grooves are more metallic and harsh. The title track, a collaboration with M Machine, features competing synths, clipped vocals and a Balearic beat.
The keyboard string sounds on “Dudalism”, featuring Steve Duda, add a wistful, melancholic quality to the enraptured bass beat and “Electric Fist” is an off-kilter, swerving Krautrock beast.
It has been argued by various different music critics that electro-house beats get tiring over prolonged periods of listening. This is only true if you view the music in the same way you do rock or pop. Digitalism have proved that dance music is about layers and stacking sounds with subtlety and panache. They’ve done it in fine style again without lowering the tone for mainstream consumption.
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