Dance now channels the energy of Eighties rave through punk's attitude

Rupert Howe
Friday 07 March 2008 17:45 GMT
French duo Orion Bouvier and Caroline Martial, aka Kap Bambino
French duo Orion Bouvier and Caroline Martial, aka Kap Bambino

Three decades on from the Sex Pistols’ heyday, punk’s still not dead. It has, though, had a remix. Raucous collisions of relentless 4/4 drum beats and raw electronic noise, which channel the up-for-it energy of Eighties rave through punk’s abrasive attitude, are rapidly becoming the defining sound for a new generation who consider “dance” to be all about pogoing, head-banging and moshing.

Right now, all the really wild sounds seem to be coming out of Europe and North America, from the Parisian scene surrounding Ed Banger Records and Justice to Baltimore laptop maverick Dan Deacon and Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim, a kind of electro-rock White Stripes (Matt yells over two-note keyboard riffs while Kim pounds on a snaredrum) whose effervescent, self-titled debut has been picked up by Norwegian label Tellé.

Yet Matt & Kim sound almost tame next to Kap Bambino (pictured) – aka French duo Orion Bouvier and livewire vocalist Caroline Martial. Already renowned in Europe for their chaotic live shows, and Martial’s penchant for performing in skin-tight outfits, the distorted electro-thrash of new single “Save” (Alt Delete) is both exhilarating and disorientating.

As a quick glance at their YouTube clips makes clear, the Kap Bambino experience is as much about live performance as musical production, with the DJ once more relegated to support act. Besides, who needs DJs anyway when you can store an entire record collection on a laptop? Not Pittsburgh geek, and recent live sensation, Greg Gillis, whose brilliant mash-up album Night Ripper (Illegal Art) jams everything from chart pop to hip hop, Ludacris to the Pixies, into a digital sonic blender.

There’s a similar sense of eclectic energy to “Knockout” (50 Bones), the new single from Reims duo The Shoes, which recycles the riff from Survivor’s Eighties rock anthem “Eye Of The Tiger” into an explosive cocktail of Daft Punk beats and boxing-themed chants. Sadly, not all mash-ups boast the same energy – or inspiration. Brighton big beat veteran Damien Harris’s latest track as Midfield General, “Bass Mechanic” (Skint), is a wearing, and wholly unnecessary, attempt to turn Nitro Deluxe’s old-school house classic “Let’s Get Brutal” into a banging Chemical Brothers track.

Roving DJ double-act The Glimmers – a Ghent duo who take their name from the nickname used by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the Seventies – also specialise in re-workings of club and chart classics. Their first album as producers goes by the somewhat protracted title The Glimmers Are Gee Gee Fazzi ( and is for now available only at their parties. Yet it’s worth tracking down, if only for their trashy, tongue-in-cheek take on Eurodisco and bizarre electro-funk rewiring of Olivia Newton John’s 1982 hit “Let’s Get Physical”.

Less enigmatic, but just as enjoyable, is the new Clock EP (Wichita) from Simian Mobile Disco, who here sidestep their usual steroid techno in favour of a clean electropop feel. It’s a stripped-down approach quite at odds with Berlin DJ Robi Insinna’s latest venture as Headman, whose single “Running Into Time” (Gomma) is nonetheless just the kind of twisted electro-rave to feature in a Simian DJ set, its propulsive Soulwax-like drum track offset by Toronto singer Don Cash’s peculiar falsetto vocal.

Equally peculiar is the discovery that two violin prodigies from opposite sides of the world have recently turned their musical skills to disco. Kelley Polar, a Croatian-born ex-student at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, has a new album titled I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling (Environ) which fuses minimal electronica and hypnotic string loops – as on stand-out track “Entropy Reigns (In the Celestial City)”. While “Staying In” (Smalltown Supersound) by Norwegian violinist-turnedhouse producer Joachim Dyrdahl, aka diskJokke, deftly cuts from bass-heavy percussive house to the title track’s rippling krautrock synth melody.

Rising South London dubstep producer Benga may not have any classical training, but that didn’t prevent him from also displaying uncommon musical ambition at a tender age, releasing his first single when he was just 14. New album Diary Of An Afro Warrior (Tempa) shows him improving with age, tracks like the acid-crazed “E Trips” and brooding epic “Night”, showcasing a harder edged, more rhythmic attitude than the scene’s star name Burial. Apparently he turned down the chance of a career as a footballer to focus on making music. It sounds like he made the right decision.

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