Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: RVNG Intl.
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
In the year twenty-twelve, whilst the LDR virus was infiltrating the Gagatorium and a strain of brain-drained hairy creatures moved their mouths to allow grunts about the death of guitar music to plop out, the responsibility fell to those not reaching for a noose to make a mends....REDACTED ....and this is why I love Blondes (or B L O N D E S as I prefer to write it) because they take me away from all of these thoughts. This, their self-titled debut album is nothing short of devastating. Call it sigh-fi, slow-wave, disso-dance, tranbian, trance-andental, throbtronica, shoeadelia, droneadelica, gaaasssp, bass-gaze, cat-gaze, lazer-haze or whatever silly genre your care to name...
They say that flattery will get you everywhere, so before we start I'd just like to say: Congratulations! The fact that you're here reading this review of a (relatively) obscure electronic album on a (sadly) not exactly massive music website suggests that you're an informed consumer and really know your stuff. However, odds are as an informed consumer that there are people you know - maybe friends, probably family - whose musical preferences drive you slightly mad. Not necessarily what they listen to, but rather how they listen to it; most likely, they're still using the earphones that came with their iPods despite your repeated protestations.
Zach Steinman and Sam Haar, AKA Blondes, released three 12-inches of blurry Gottsching-filtered house music on RVNG Intl last year, each with its own thematic duality (Lover/Hater). Given that they all appear on Blondes, their debut album for the label is no surprise to those already following along. Added to those six tracks, though, are two new ones—"Gold" and "Amber"—and perhaps more providentially, a remix album of the tracks from recent heavies like Andy Stott, John Roberts, Teengirl Fantasy and Laurel Halo.
From music message boards to The Guardian, the term "hipster house" popped up late last year to describe a recent wave of dance music being made by "rock" or otherwise non-dance types. It encompasses acts like Miracles Club, Ital, and their 100% Silk labelmates, as well as like minds from the more established Italians Do It Better and DFA (Matmos member and Pitchfork contributor Drew Daniel rightly traces the approach's roots all the way back to Throbbing Gristle). The common thread is live electronic instrumentation and lo-fi recording as aesthetic choice (surely, these acts could just as easily afford to drop Ableton onto their laptops as buy rhythm boxes).
BlondesBlondes[RVNG INTL; 2012]By Marcus J. Moore; February 14, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGGiven the immediacy of our internet-driven culture, it’s quite surprising when an act relies so heavily on painstaking patience. But that’s just the focus of Brooklyn house duo Zach Steinman and Sam Haar — known collectively as Blondes — whose bouncy blend of dance music is both stubborn and restless, thumping along at a moderate pace as the producers heap layers of deep bass and reverb onto the pile.
Blondes plant a seed and watch it grow. Their brand of patient, live-take house begins with the smallest element — a synth chord here, a little bassline there — and evolves, slowly but surely. It’s the same hypnotizing repetition that made The Fields’ From Here We Go Sublime an instant classic, but the 12-inch singles Zach Steinmann and Sam Harr have compiled here for their proper full-length debut are less manic than Alex Wilder’s work, and with their warmly produced keyboards and deep, palpable kicks, they’re more tangible and human.
In retrospect, maybe it was inevitable that electronic dance music would eventually circle back and start paying homage to itself. After all, this cycle occurs in every other type of music. What 15 years ago seemed like an inexhaustible frontier of musical possibilities has now become another cultural archive, ripe for nostalgia. Or, as some optimists would have it, rediscovery.
The compositions found on the self-titled debut album from Blondes, a Brooklyn-based electronic duo, conjure up the usual images of weekend-in-the-club revelry. Masses of heavy, sweating bodies are caught in mid-groove by strobe light flashes, and personal space is a thing of the (more sober) past. If this picture seems vague, as though it might be happening at any venue, that’s because it could be.
So let's not get bogged down in all that stuff - the 'where did it come from?'s, the significance of the bridge contrasted with the socio-politic backdrop of our times, the intricacies, the niche movements of the seventies that are a clear influence, the constant hand-wringing over the authenticity of it all. Ok, so that might be a bit disingenuous. Blondes may well believe that we, the listener, should be putting some thought into this thoroughly good larksome house record.
Zach Steinman and Sam Haar are the missing link between ’90s Balearic and chillwave, trading in a sunrise-techno so 6am-eternal it’s indecent. Like Scandinavian group Air France, the Brooklynites create dreamy, Mediterranean music despite coming from somewhere that’s neither dreamy nor Mediterranean – and the result is poignant package-holiday dance, sun-drunk but urgent with passion. While some may accuse them of frivolous hipsterism, their ecstatic trance is conducted with technical refinement, the nine-minute ‘Business’ manoeuvring towards its destination with masterful grace.