For as long as I can remember, my sensory reaction to EDM (electronic dance music) has always caused a “fight or flight” type deal: shutting it off at first hear or running far away from the venue in which it’s bumping–whether it be a bar, club, or friend’s house. The genre, first familiarized with my ears during my freshman year, didn’t just underwhelm me…it angered me–and offended all my standards of musical artistry. EDM, dubstep, trance, house–however anyone attempted to fancify it–was mindless, just the frat bro’s first choice for reckless raging. These repetitive, computer-abused instrumentals seemed so anti-melodious to me, like a vapid mess of digital over-process that seemed an exploitation of would-be music. Lyrics have taken a backseat…or have been omitted from trance/EDM altogether. These observations remained stuck in my mental, consequently causing a knee-jerk adverse reaction to any dance-y beat lasting more than two minutes—and losing some friends in the process.
Until…just two days ago, my ears were graced with the gift of Disclosure, the EDM duo that sounds nothing like EDM. I heard “White Noise” (Feat. AlunaGeorge) and was head over heels. I’m late to the party…but nevertheless, the two DJs– (also brothers)—might just have changed my life…
Self-identified as a melting pot of house, future garage, synth-pop, and electronic, bros Guy and Howard Lawrence are refurbishing the rave scene. Their inspirations are perhaps a clue to their coolness; the late J Dilla, Daft Punk, James Blake, and other music masterminds comprise their list of influences. Devoid of the “blah” that seems to permeate its fellow DJs’ material, Disclosure provides an alternative for the EDM-hater. It’s dance music with lyricism, collaborations, and melodies that aren’t just a looped beat playing for eons.
The twosome’s chart-crashing single “Latch”, proven worthy of all kinds of music fans’ ears, says enough. The 4-minute single, fresh off the EP, offers soaring, falsetto vocals atop a house-y beat; add in the pounding 808s and it’s a match made in heaven. The point proven here is one that I had concluded could never be made in EDM: the marriage of digital beats with genuine melody and lyricism. Here, skeptics get the best of both worlds: the sounds with the substance. Take notes, Steve Aoki and others.
Settle’s full of other gems, too. “You & Me” has the grittier-voiced and seductive Eliza Dolittle on vocals, atop an instrumental drop that’s nothing but breathtaking. (It’s no surprise that the album was nominated for best Dance/Electronica album at the 2014 Grammys). And it’s easy to recognize yet another huge thing that’s setting Disclosure apart: use of dynamics. One of the murderous aspects of EDM festivals like Ultra and E-Zoo, even events like Dayglow, is the repetition and lack of variety during a standard 12-minute track. In this case, the amount of repetition is just right— one facet of Disclosure’s masterfully skilled style. No boredom, just awe.
Versatility makes Disclosure intelligent—and effortlessly hip. Fit for the club, the gym, the living room, or walking around campus…no track is ever “annoying”, too long, or too simple—a time-tested symptom of musicality.
To get a richer taste of Disclosure’s sound, check out the Pitchfork Music Festival Paris clip on YouTube to hear their full, live set. Also: scope some of the highlights off Settle: “White Noise” (Feat. AlunaGeorge), “F For You”, and “Voices” (Feat. Sasha Keable). The group will appear at both Coachella and Governor’s Ball Music Festival this summer.