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CD Feature/ Exillon: "It's OK to dance"

img  Tobias

On his last album, Jay Fields was being compared to Ligeti. That is not going to happen with “It’s OK to dance”, a work dominated by metronomic four to the floor bassdrums, delirious acid lines on overdrive, paranoid breaks yearning for the return of the beat, oldschool claps and oldschool loops: This is a nostalgic return to the club, a nonstop anthem to sweat and physical contact, an ecstatic scream in a completely packed industrial compound and an open sign of defiance to anyone who wanted Exillon to exclusively stand for „“intelligence”, “complexity” and “progress”.

Maybe we need to take a step back from overly rash judgement, though. For one, Fields was already openly recording non-official remixes to Gwen Stefani tracks before even releasing predecessor “The Keening Dithers”. And then his background in drumming always carried the seed for more openly groove-oriented work in its womb. If there is a more accessible side to his pieces, then it didn’t only start to manifest itself with “It’s OK to dance”.

Most importantly, however, the album is anything but a simple and repetitive techno tribute. Granted, Fields’ influences are showing more than on his previous efforts. “It’s OK to dance” has the same melodic sweetness and loving focus on a single musical element as Aphex Twin, the same contrast between catchyness and hypnoticism as Daft Punk and comes mixed into a continous, minimal flow not unlike a DJ set at a rave. And yet, he has found a style which is distinctly his own.

Especially when Exillon reaches out into cyberfunk, house and hiphop, he displays a warm and emotive side to an otherwhise purposely dark and tribal music. His themes are marked by subtle changes, all of his elements pulsating organically as knobs softly change frequency and timbre and his arrangements are filled with colourful sounds, bubbly sequences and undulating harmonies underneath the immediate surface of the drum computer.

The reason is simple: The overall tempo is not meant to push dancers beyond their physical limit, but to keep the whole body engaged in a friendly trance. With its pearly liquid-like quirkiness, some of the tunes here are actually closer to the electronic side of Krautrock than to the pumping rumpstomping madness of acid. It is an experiment in terms of its inventive processes, which however neither feels nor sounds like one on a first listen.

Having said all this, it does seem appropriate to at least ask what evolution truly means on a personal level anyway. To Jay Fields, it has meant producing the music he truly loves in the moment, without subjecting this wish to rational analysis. You could, of course, try to find all sorts of clever post-whatever explanations for why this is still an “intelligent”, “complex” and “progressive” album. Then again: Why bother, when it is absolutely “ok to dance”?

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Exillon
Homepage: Ad Noiseam Records

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