Release Date: Aug 21, 2012
Record label: True Panther Sounds
Teengirl Fantasy's Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi seemed like they could go in just about any direction based on how effortlessly they blended electronic, Krautrock, and shoegaze elements into gorgeous impressionism on their debut album, 7AM. On Tracer, they choose to repeat themselves as little as possible, a brave and mostly successful move. Opting for a chilly palette owing to early-'90s techno, house, and R&B, Takahashi and Weiss sound restrained where they were previously lush and overflowing; "Orbit" makes this newfound frostiness and focus apparent from Tracer's start, while the tight, popping rhythms on "Inca" and "Timeline"'s gurgling bass and serene synth pads emphasize the album's retro-futurist slant.
Teengirl Fantasy's Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi are the latest indie dance producers to find themselves swept up in a wave of melancholia. The contrast between despondence and celebration is a well-worn formula in dance music, one that's recently snuck onto the pop charts through the Jamie xx-produced Drake song Take Care. The Brooklyn-based duo's sophomore album plays in a similarly wistful emotional and musical grey zone, but this time they've scrapped the sample-based production methods employed on their debut in favour of original vocals.
If their name earns Teengirl Fantasy a few extra Google hits, they deserve it: Tracer, the follow-up to their 2010 debut, 7AM, is a carefully balanced collage of experimental electronica and stylish vocal pop on which Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi display a technical prowess to match many of EDM’s current stars (two of them, Laurel Halo and Panda Bear, appear as guests here). Weiss and Takahashi have developed an exciting, modern sound, layering cutting-edge beats over romantic synth melodies and creating rhythms that seem familiar yet still spiked with surprises, like the Jewel of the Nile soundtrack on ketamine. There’s a narcotic rush of ideas on Tracer, which belies its pop/teen imagery, which extends to the band’s imitation Angelfire webpage.
Teengirl Fantasy’s sophomore album reeks of classic Detroit techno to the extent that it’s easy to forget you’re listening to an album made in the past year. Even if Tracer dirties its fingers with a little pop, R & B and house, Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi sadly lack their forefathers’ mastery for emotionalizing machine-made sound. But with vocals via Romanthony, Panda Bear and Laurel Halo, what sounds like theft is at least somewhat enjoyable to digest.
Lush, dreamy pop has historically inhabited lush, dreamy places. Think “I Feel Love” in New York City or “Smooth Operator” in the UK. The lights, the beats, the cooing vocalist — these songs evoke the glamorous side of life, even if the club isn’t on the glamorous side of town. Both of those songs inform the experimental ambience of Tracer, Teengirl Fantasy’s sultry second album comprising of all original material.
Naming your group Teengirl Fantasy suggests a self-conscious interest in someone else's idea of joyful abandon. Or at least, it does if the group in question is a pair of male twentysomethings. Since they formed, Oberlin buddies Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi have treated hedonistic, crowd-moving dance music this way: as something colorful, captivating, and too delicate to handle roughly.
This duo’s debut ‘7am’ threw a nostalgic blanket over a heap of styles, blending chillwave, post-dubstep and the house/disco revivalism that’s become so hip. ‘Tracer’ develops their sound in every direction – except the disco/house revivalism. More ambitious, more experimental, more confident, it adds muscle and sophistication. Panda Bear turns in a deliciously wonky vocal on ‘Pyjama’, while Hyperdub bass mistress Laurel Halo helps make ‘Mist Of Time’’s complex, looping electronica.
Teengirl FantasyTracer[True Panther / R&S; 2012]By Will Ryan; August 30, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGIt's interesting to note how thoroughly Teengirl Fantasy and their Oberlin College compatriots, Blondes, have integrated into dance music's broader landscape since first appearing in 2010; Teengirl Fantasy with their promising but not-quite-there debut, 7AM, and Blondes with a sticky EP full of cosmic disco turns and vertically climbing house by the name of Touched. Although aesthetically different, the two shared a common birthplace and--profane accusations of "hipster house" aside--a compelling outsider, pop reconstructionist mold. In 2012, Blondes is a hooky house duo on RVNG INTL and Teengirl Fantasy is doing convincing techstep impressions of 80s electro pop and R&B on London's R&S.
I often ask myself when listening to a new record: What is the problem that this album is attempting to solve? Teengirl Fantasy’s latest, Tracer, comes at a time when the role of the DJ is in transition. For nearly a decade, up in the booth, DJs have possessed technology enough so that the digital 1s and 0s can keep spinning indefinitely, seamlessly, and completely without human intervention, or at least for the time it takes the superstar DJ to repeatedly step away, drag on a cigarette, and churlishly fling a beer to the floor. With the advent of CDJs, vinyl emulation software, and laptop mixing, the average workaday DJ mix has become vastly more sophisticated, never mind how much of the mixing is being done live.
You might as well call the duo behind electronica act Teengirl Fantasy bona-fide hipsters given their credentials and friends in their Rolodex. Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi were first interviewed by Pitchfork, that bastion of hipster culture, a year before they’d even released their first album, 2010’s 7AM. The UK’s Guardian newspaper also gave the group serious ink as a “band of the day”, also well before their debut album had been unleashed.
I’m going to risk sounding like a grumpy old man by saying that a good amount of today’s EDM artists, including those who have been selling out festivals all over the world, are setting a bad example for artists in the genre by staying stuck to their laptops like it was a Chinese finger trap. I’m not disputing the legitimacy of using laptops to create interesting music, but it seems as though many artists are relying on the convenience of the medium a little too much. After hearing countless processed keyboard lines, recycled samples, and bass drops over the past few years, you begin to feel as though you’ve heard the entirety of FL Studio’s sound catalog at this point, and though it does seem like the masses are ready to except this, what with the recent boom of EDM producers becoming pop stars, there have been many emerging artists who are fighting to preserve the warm analog sound of the genres past.
Dance culture and religion sometimes clash in the most peculiar of manners. One of the most bemusing examples of this odd pairing is a classy trend for christening nightclubs with such sacrilegious names as Heaven, Paradise, Cloud 9, Salvation… etc. Quite what the genesis is for all these dancefloor dioceses is difficult to say. Perhaps they are the remains of a once regular congregation of disco followers, now attended by those in search of 'the Drop' - who knows.
The sophomore album from Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi is a playful record full of pop textures, light nostalgia, and occasionally cartoon-ish dynamics that does a great job undermining many of the tropes of contemporary dance music. Tracer is a sample-free collection of songs that, unlike their debut full-length, 7AM, focuses on live instrumentation, production wizardry, and a host of fantastic guest vocalists to create a series of surprisingly diverse soundscapes. It explores techno, house, and R&B, but with a focused approach that never lingers too long on one idea.
Casually lumped in with acts like Ital, Mi Ami and Miracles Club of the silky-rough, slightly tempo-dizzy "hipster house" of the last several years, Teengirl Fantasy seemed like they were the act closest to summiting that heap and crossing over into larger dance music notoriety. Their soft, fuzz-blurred 2010 debut, 7 AM, was anchored in the clean, triumphant synth lines and soul-bent vocals of "Cheaters," which went on to see remixes from both John Talabot and Beautiful Swimmers on Talabot's own Hivern Discs. With the news that London dance institution R&S had signed the duo for the release of their second album, it seemed proof something really promising was around the corner for Nick Weiss and Logan Takahishi.
Teengirl Fantasy's debut album 7AM was a pleasingly hazy concoction of house and R&B, that could easily be filed under all sorts of voguish but somewhat disreputable labels; hipster house, chillwave, hypanagoic pop etc. Most of these labels fit, and you could have an indulgent critical theory field day in examining Teengirl Fantasy's relationship with memory and nostalgia if you're so inclined, (though a wanky theoretical analysis of the sort can be applied to just about anything, from modernity's relationship to American breakfast cereals, to a gendered post-structuralist critique of Boris Johnson's hair. ) In any case 7AM was a solid album that was its best when it eschewed its admittedly serene meandering for more immediate and vicarious pleasures.
In 2010, Teengirl Fantasy released their debut full-length ‘7AM’, an album that still manages to sound relevant despite electronic music progressing swiftly within the past two years with innumerable sub-genres as producers get more experimental. Impressively, Teengirl Fantasy have moved on too; their new record ‘Tracer’ seeing the duo create a more chaotic sound, whilst also having a noteworthy set of collaborators including Laurel Halo and Panda Bear. Opener ‘Orbit’ spirals into view with arpeggiated synths and a booming, sparse drum line that dissolves into a rapidly ticking beat that gradually builds up into the hollow taps of drums and spooky hisses that sound like the wind blowing in fast motion.
Recent graduates of Oberlin College's music conservatory, Logan Takahasi and Nick Weiss somehow managed to squeeze in a full-length and regular touring before their studies ended. Their debut, 2010's 7AM, was a gauzy, ambient house delight that showed considerable promise, especially with brilliant, funkified jam "Cheaters." With school now behind them, the duo return with sophomore album Tracer, an even deeper, mind-altering dance album that finds them ditching their samplers and progressing more towards a completely amorphous sound. By creating their music live, they allow themselves the freedom to open up their sound world to unlimited possibilities.