Monday, 7 May 2012

Django Django - Django Django


There comes a time when you sit down and listen to a record and find yourself enjoying it, not so much for any specific technicality or element in its structure, but simply for the bare and honest truth that you're just loving what you hear. It's an unexplainable sensation - something you feel when you hear a song on the radio, eagerly go to great lengths to obtain it, and then leave it on repeat for countless cycles - but it strikes a similar chord to when you had once been a child, playing a game or amusing yourself just for the sheer fun of it. Back when needing a reason for enjoying something felt demeaning and pointless. There's only a few albums that have managed to rekindle this nostalgic sensation, Daft Punk's Discovery for me, still remains the stand-out example. But it's with immense satisfaction that I add Django Django - London quartet consiting of vocalist-guitarist Vinny Neff, bassist Jimmy Dixon, keyboardist Tmmy Grace and drummer Dave Maclean - to this honorary list. Django's self-titled debut is all about the enjoyment factor; tides of colour here enveloping the listener in a wash of optimisitically-charged instrumentation and charming vocal play.

'Hail Bop' gets things well into rhythm with a signature swoon of keyboards and whispery bass cleverly hidden underneath. The band's instrumentation, as charged and ready as any electro-pop outfit, sail across a track that strikes a silhouette against the shining of electronics. But the real addictiveness - an addiction soon transpiring into quirkiness - is left for follower 'Default'. The track's primarily simple beat is a tug between a closely-held strum of guitars and stomach-beating butterfly-mimicking percussion. But the vocals come up trumps here, the multitude of overlaying pressed-togetherness reminiscent of any Animal Collective composite. Though it finds itself bouncing and richocheting off the marching of guitars and drums, as you listen to the lyrics - the vocals shift from conjuring collectiveness to distorted echoing along the way - it's the choice of words, and the resulting collision, that makes this both an enjoyment, and an addiction. Because it's the somewhat simple progression, on reflection, that gives off a sense of a double-meaning context. As the band march their instruments in acutely-timed arrangment and order, the cries of "take one of the team/you're a cog in the machine..." give off this warped double-take on the music and its centred themes. Amidst the stretching sands and flutter of colour, the neat and tidiness of the track actually comes across more as being something rather organized and objective. And then, "Forget about the cause/press rewind then stop and pause..." the lyrics continue - once more, the overall fabric of concept and context bending and twisting again back into its original...default. What was once a feel-good, carry-on pop tune, turned empathatic rise of tone, returns to its care-free nature again.

The band aren't all for glittery showcases of synths and sine waves. 'Waveforms' in all its electro fancy-dress, actually feels a lot more modest and organic in its execution. The tapping percussions, though placed at a higher level, in contrast to the muddy synths and embossed lyrics, don't feel in any way too overblown or overdone. As it picks up, the track gains more momentum; more energy, more intensity, more depth to its scope of surface-to-surface sounds. But even when synths take centre stage again as in 'Zumm Zumm', the awe seeping off of its sound is one of immediate optimism and down-right delightful emotion. It doesn't try to be something it's not. The lyrics are simple, but they aren't rung through multiple effect libraries so as to sound 'edgy' or 'deep'. And the appliance of extra drumming isn't some demeaning attempt to provide altering perspectives on its sound. It's a simple construct, but the simplicity and somewhat safe parameters actually benefit, rather than hinder, the overall collective of what we're hearing. Vinny Neff certainly has a David Byrne feel to his vocal approach as do the rest of the band in the way they manifest their sounds in a Talking Heads-like manner of improvising how the music continues on. 'Loves Dart' again reiterates the band's appreciaion and well-executed appliance of organic instruments in a somewhat inorganic mannerism. The guitar playing is simple, the vocals are delicately warming - the harmonic-like echo further adding to its effect - and the crisp percussion top it all off with a somewhat tropic mysticism to a track that's as earthly and grounded as any evening estate.

This is the key feature and defining success to Django's sound, and it's the way they go about this with such simple instrumentation and song structures. And yet, through all this, they manage to manifest their recordings in a bizarre cocktail of indie-electro-pop-experimentalism that doesn't wade too far into each of these seperate fields. Insead, there's only this gloriously uplifting feel-good factor about their compositions. 'Life's A Beach' starts with this vacant background to its structure yet the way the guitars and the percussion melt into one another creates a new-found expanse of optimistic sound and music that totally envelops all focus into itself. 'Skies Over Cairo' has a twin pair of leading synthesizer beats - one that emits a sort of humble buzz, another more centred to visualizing the very same kaleidoscopic array of colour and tone the album cover presents, in a perfectly-fitting egyptian-esque get-up. And it's the closing track, 'Silver Rays' that stands tall as one of the brightest and confident of the album's track-listing. Much like their experimental electro counterparts, Field Music & Cut Copy, Django aren't afraid to throw in a bit of emphatic confidence into the mix and it pays off remarkably well here. In-between the squelching and buzzing of electronics, Neff's vocals drift across in such a way that they delve into the layering of percussion, that here beats and clammers amidst the soaring of synths and ambient noise that fills the surrounding regions. There's definitely an eeri feel to this tune, but there's also parts that make it feel a lot more solid and ground-centred that it comes off like some gigantic mash of emotions rather than something merely whispring in the air.

It's been a while - as mentioned - I've felt this engrossed and soaked into the music that even after repeated listens, the snap, crackle...and yes, pop that goes on between this exchangement of sound and instrumentation, feels just as fresh as it was on first listen. Hell, on first recording probably - there's an immediate face-smacking lip-tingling uniueness to this album and even after all these years of synthesizers and beat-orientation slowly climbing up in the musical World, it seems now that we've found the perfect candidates who demonstrate this sound's impact, influence and importance. Django Django here, on conclusion, have no doubt found the right ingredients and measure of said sounds to live up to the swirling surreal concept their cover so boldly details to us on first inspection. But it's fitting. Django Django, addressing both the band and the album in equal measure, is a worthy showcase in how fantastic the nature of this branch of music is. Even if there have been a fair few dozen acts that have come before, what they've created in content, Django have redefined in context. And through it, the culmination of emotion and thought running through this record is one to be both admired and embraced.
~Jordan

9.3

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