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Help me get into "dance" music


northy
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Can people please tell me what constitutes essential "dance" music. I already like the following (painfully mainstream I'm sure) stuff...

Propellerheads

Fatboyslim (and basically any Big Beat)

Chemical Brothers

Prodigy

Leftfield

The Streets

Electro stuff from Radiohead (Idioteque etc.)

... but I fear there's an entire genre of greatness out there that I'm missing from past and present. Aphex Twin and DJ Shadow are two names which I know I should give a listen but what's the best introductory album etc. I'm happy to listen to anything from any genre / decade so long as it's actually good.

Feel free to correct my decade-old terminology btw.

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I think they're probably the only act that I can think of to be praised 100% across the board by all purveyors and lovers of "dance." I mean, really, that's too huge a genre to really pin down, but I think Daft Punk appeal to all. Whether speaking to "big beat" mates stuck in the 90s, or moody, up-their-own-arse deep techno heads, or even guys who don't particularly like dance, Daft Punk get love at each turn.

I'd say Alive 2007 is a superb Daft Punk primer, and as strong a foundation to build an understanding of dance music as any. It's minimal, maximal, funky, deep, fun, terrifying, everything. Pick it up (and make sure you nail the 'Human After All / Together / One More Time (Reprise) / Music Sounds Better With You' encore medley - it doesn't feature on all copies of the album).

Daft-Punk-Alive-2007-419432.jpg

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I think they're probably the only act that I can think of to be praised 100% across the board by all purveyors and lovers of "dance." I mean, really, that's too huge a genre to really pin down, but I think Daft Punk appeal to all. Whether speaking to "big beat" mates stuck in the 90s, or moody, up-their-own-arse deep techno heads, or even guys who don't particularly like dance, Daft Punk get love at each turn.

I don't like Daft Punk.

Actually, I like some of their tracks. I loved Da Funk when I heard it way, way back, and Inter5tella is amazing. I couldn't imagine sitting down and listening to one of their albums, though. Their music is so damned repetitive. Once you've heard a couple bars, you've heard pretty much the whole track.

My advice to anyone who wants to get into dance music is always the same: Find a DJ you like. Once you've found a DJ you like you'll never run out of new music to listen to. You'll have the DJ's mix CDs, his or her bootleg sets online, live appearances, all the new artists labels they introduce you, plus other DJs spinning similar genres and everything they bring to the party. Even better, there are so many aspiring DJs out there that there are some very good ones who haven't hit the big time, but offer their mixes online for free in the hope someone might spot them. Add all the podcasts and radio shows from dance websites and stations and you'll have more music than you could possibly listen to without spending penny more than it costs you to browse this forum.

As far as CDs go, my number one recommendation is, as always, Involver by Sasha. Such a monumental piece of electronic music, and really accessible for people who don't know much about dance music. Northern Exposure by Sasha and John Digweed is another accessible essential, although it's getting on a bit now.

Norther, have you listened to Fatboy Slim's mix CDs? They're really old, but they're still great party music. If you like big beat stuff they're essential, as is Lo-Fidelity All-Stars' On the Floor at the Big Beat Boutique.

It sounds like you might be into breaks, so I'd also check out offerings from Adam Freeland and Freq Nasty. Some of BT's stuff might be up your street too, but he dips into all kinds of genres so you might hit on some stuff you don't like. His album Movement In Still life is pretty great though - it's a mixture of breaks, trance, and pop songs with a dance edge. There's even a ballad on there. His R&R album is great, too, and works well as an artist album and a mix CD.

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I don't like Daft Punk.

Actually, I like some of their tracks. I loved Da Funk when I heard it way, way back, and Inter5tella is amazing. I couldn't imagine sitting down and listening to one of their albums, though. Their music is so damned repetitive. Once you've heard a couple bars, you've heard pretty much the whole track.

Have you heard Alive 2007?

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Oh man, the Fatboy Slim Essential Millenium and On The Floor at the Big Boutique mixes are utterly mandatory for anyone with a passing interest in big beat. Shame he just started focusing on badly mixing funky house in the end, but when he was on it you'd be hard pressed to find a better party starter.

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Have you heard Alive 2007?

No. What makes it so different from the singles they've released?

Oh man, the Fatboy Slim Essential Millenium and On The Floor at the Big Boutique mixes are utterly mandatory for anyone with a passing interest in big beat. Shame he just started focusing on badly mixing funky house in the end, but when he was on it you'd be hard pressed to find a better party starter.

I think the Live on Brighton Beach mix is my favourite. The bit where the sound system's turned off and comes back a minute later is great. I get all swept up in it and start moaning about it along with the live crowd.

Which mix has the drum roll that goes on for about three minutes? It's crazy, the most insane moment of just about any mix I've ever heard. You think "It HAS to stop soon" but it just keeps going.

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Cheers for all the suggestions people, I'll give them a listen over the next week or so and report back.

As for "On the Floor at the Boutique", that was one of the first albums on my new iPod. Amazing stuff. Pretty sure I've heard all the "boutique" albums at some point, will have to dig them out again.

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It's a bit hard to start from nowhere. Here's some stuff at random.

The first two Underworld albums (dubnobasswithmyheadman and Second Toughest In The Infants)

Like someone else said, Cross by Justice.

Idealism by Digitalism.

Basement Jaxx's early stuff.

They're all pretty dancy in the main.

I'd really, really recommend Memories of a Fading Room by Future Loop Foundation. It veers between ambient noises and pretty uptempo stuff, and is literally one of the most uplifting, life-affirming albums I've ever listened to.

Also Global Communications' 76:14. Which is laidback to the point of horizontality, but is awesome.

Other stuff:

J Dilla's Donuts (downtempo half-hip-hop half-electronic indtrumental stuff)

Ulrich Schnauss' first two albums (Far Away Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place) (mid-tempo trancey kind of stuff)

Untrue by Burial (mainly downtempo garagey-sounding urban decay as music. Only brilliant.)

Movements by Booka Shade (clinical electronicy stuff)

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No. What makes it so different from the singles they've released?

Daft Punk's Alive 2007 is like a culmination of their various musical styles and guises blended up into this one big, fantastic journey. Drums and beats from one track blend seemlessly with vocals and melodies from others. Samples are glitched-up and distorted live in the flesh, effects are added and the crowd are whipped into frenzy. It's seriously masterful. Atmospheric 8-bit game riffs are extracted out of old tunes one minute, and previously weedy joints are beefed up into sky-splitting bangers. They take little snippets and samples from all across their back catalogue, loop them up, layer them, freak them and end up churning out a complete dance music primer. From the tempo-gathering, stripped-back electro treatment of 'Too Long / Steam Machine,' past the dubbed-out, blunted 'Harder Better Faster Stronger / Face To Face' and onto the senses-shattering apocalypse of 'Prime Time Of Your Life / Brainwasher / Rollin' And Scratchin' / Alive,' it basically fucks you up unrelentingly. Then they finish up with the all-out euphoria of that 'Human After All / Together / One More Time (Reprise) / Music Sounds Better With You' encore (with 'Together' being an old collaboration between DJ Falcon and Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, and 'Music Sounds Better With You' being that massive Stardust banger from '99 or so - Thomas Bangalter with Alan Braxe, I think?).

I think each of these movements need to be heard within the context of the set so do yourself a favour and check it out. The movements I mentioned are amongst my favourite moments, but you also need to listen out for little areas where they completely alter the emotional impact of old tracks. For example, 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' starts to sound positively cinematic over the electro funk of 'Around The World' (of all things!), while 'Human After All' takes on added drama when placed over the increasing tension and triumph of 'Superheroes.' Ridiculously, they even make two of their perennial filler tracks (for me at least), 'Crescendolls' and 'Television Rules The Nation' combine into this really powerful, almost frightening moment. 'Crescendolls,' man. That's the big, poofed-out party jam from Discovery. It normally wouldn't sound out of place as the background music to a clown show at the circus, but here it's mutated into this big militant jam.

Seriously, it's the complete BOMBNIZZLE:

Daft_Punk_Alive_2007_Virgin.jpg:(

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OK, thought I'd upload a few movements from Alive. Check these out for a little taster, though I'd argue that they lose a bit of impact when removed from the context of the entire set. Think of them as being like brilliant scenes from a great film. As such, they can possibly be regarded as spoilers. Whatever, though:

Too Long / Steam Machine

Face To Face / Harder Better Faster Stronger

Prime Time Of Your Life / Brainwasher / Rollin' and Scratchin' / Alive - (double drop and turn it up)

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In all honesty even though I have the vast majority of Daft Punk's output I wasn't that enthralled with Alive, it just felt like a fairly cynical 'best of' release with not a vast amount of stuff to stand it above the originals. But that may be down to the fact I was never all that keen on the original versions of the tracks they used.

I will play it at a fairly large volume to see if this can't be rectified.

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The thing about it is this - I reckon it's best suited to deep, concentrated headphone listening. On a bus journey or something. I'd listened to it a couple of times after being given it for Christmas last year, but it wasn't until I took real time to concentrate on it, and nothing else, that its genius dawned on me. I must have listened to it in its entirety 70+ times. For a record that's been out for 12 months exactly, that's some going. I got pretty obsessed with it around March, when I had late solitary night after late solitary night of trying to pull my art school folio together for application. It became like a guide and an inspiration during those days. I kinda knew how Sebastien Tellier must have felt here:

up-sebastientellier.jpg

Funnily enough, whenever I listen to their Homework album, I'm reminded vividly of the long nights I spent trying to get my Higher art shit together, wayyyyyy back at school. It's funny how history repeats itself.

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It's not cynical in the slightest, I'd say it's anything but actually.

I'm tempted to think that the tracks from Human After All were designed to be mixed in with the older material the way it is on Alive, it almost fits too perfectly.

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I believe that too, man. I've already gone into that in the Dance Recommendations thread, and it's one of the reasons why Human After All has since become my favourite studio album of theirs. That apparent foresight is like an added element of genius to me.

And you're right. Alive is NOWHERE NEAR a cynical "best of" compilation. They put in work, craft and talent. They completely recontextualised their significant back catalogue, and I'd argue that they actually surpassed all of their previous work. All their great old club music was combined with their familiar and fantastic pop songs, while the backbone beneath it all comes from their more minimal and experimental 3rd album. The overall result is a complete elevation of their entire musical canon, almost into the realms of nigh-on spirituality!

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Funnily enough, whenever I listen to their Homework album, I'm reminded vividly of the long nights I spent trying to get my Higher art shit together, wayyyyyy back at school. It's funny how history repeats itself.

This reminds me of the time back at school when I tried to get my friend's Dad, who owned an industry-standard embroidery machine, to put the Daft Punk logo from the Homework cover onto the back of a jacket.

He told me it'd take him about a week to set up the machine. :(

That said I still think about getting some metal studs and putting the logo on the back of a leather jacket, as is their current look. It might get me a few funny looks, though.

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You tried out 'Danger' yet? Fukken French and their mastery of electronica! :( Oh wait, it's good thing! :)

Webpage will rape your eyes, if you have epilepsy, stay away.

http://www.myspace.com/2emedanger

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_(Musician)

Missed this post! I like what I've heard from that Danger dude. Fuckin' France, man. They're like a dance music conveyor belt. Another guy I totally love from there is Kavinsky. This is him here:

l_2c487cc40dbb71d7e8f1d805a3076ecc.jpg

He's all about the 80s sci-fi/action movie soundtrack. Those dodgy, cheesy, dramatic synths you'd hear when cops are getting their shit together for a big raid on the baddies warehouse and all that B) Kavinsky's invented a back story about himself that says he died after crashing his Ferrari Testarossa in 1986 or something, and now he's a reanimated zombie who makes 80s, Giorgrio Moroder style electro. Got loads of cheesy 80s-style "cool" artwork to go with his shit:

475009470_l.gif

He also gets loads of silly retro games style fan art:

l_a9381c4d922eaba68ab5b372fc4c7486.png

l_a24c06bae50849c34eb9c664ba222da0.jpg

l_e48da491758afbd6ee7e5dcf78c3dd36.gif

B)

Awesome animated video, featuring some sweet cel-shading:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SQSHg-SJXR8

Here's his MySpace (some good tracks on there): http://www.myspace.com/kavinsky

Does anyone more clued-up than I know anything about a Kavinsky album coming out sometime? I'm not a big downloader, so I don't have his (vinyl only) EPs or anything like that :(

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I'd also suggest going for some Soulwax/2manyDJ's stuff, their accessible pop beats are a sure-fire winner in my book.

Yah, I love the Soulwax. I think their most dancey records would be these:

Soulwax%20-%20Nite%20Versions.jpg

&

soulwax-most-of-the-remixes.jpg

I'd have thought every man and his dog would have heard this infamous 2manyDJs/Radio Soulwax thing by now:

B0000636KJ.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

To the original poster, I think you'd definitely dig these guys, coming from that Prodigy / big beat background you say you have. I hear a lot of that in Soulwax, though I must confess to preferring the Soulwax slant. It's a bit more European and electro-y, which suits my tastes more than big beat really did.

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