Blondes | Review
Cerebral New York dance duo goes high concept on its debut album.
With their backgrounds in electro-acoustic composition and studio art, college chums Sam Haar and Zach Steinman’s Blondes is high on concept, even if it is dance music at its core. Exploring the notion of duality, the duo released a series of beautifully packaged 12"s for left-field Gotham City imprint RVNG Intl. Pairing themes like “Lover” and “Hater,” “Business” and “Pleasure,” Blondes have now collected their limited-edition tech-house musings into a double disc with bonus original material and a batch of more dance-floor-friendly remixes.
On “Lover, ” Blondes sprinkle a cosmic glitter of synths to pad the way for distant chanting and an organic house beat. It lends the track a tribal quality, but not in a big-room, fist-pumping way. For these two, dance music is too cerebral for that. At least it is as the bare-bones bass and drum rhythms build across the dub-techno slow-burn response of “Hater.”
For two dudes from the Midwest who settled in Brooklyn, Blondes’ music fits in fine alongside German architects of the deep, like the Field, Âme and even Peter Kruder. First-disc highlight “Business” even echoes U.K. dubstep maverick Burial with its syncopated snare and haunting atmosphere. Take the groove of a Balearic soundtrack at dawn, blast it into space to play amid the stars, and you’ll start to get an idea of the moody IDM bounce of the Vangelis-esque pairing “Gold” and “Amber.”
Not surprisingly, the remix disc lacks the continuity and depth of its counterpart. Standouts include the marathon techno workout of Dungeon Acid’s rework of “Lover” and the remix from Chicago’s own Traxx, which turns “Gold” into aboriginal acid electro-funk. But often it’s a case of struggling to top the original material, which sets the bar pretty high.