Call it progressive nostalgia: Beat Connection finds the warm, quivering heart of electronic music by mining decades of electronic music past. The Seattle duo’s debut EP, Surf Noir, lands in a singular in-between space, heady and sensual, outside of time or genre. Over the course of its 28 minutes, Surf Noir plays like a faded postcard from sunny climes that may or may not exist, the album equivalent of a sunset-to-sunrise ecstasy trip and the wistful day after. Buoyant, Daft Punkish bump segues into ’90s Ninja Tune downtempo, and minimal IDM shuffles into electro-indie soul while exotic percussion and soothing melody do a strange two-step. It’s advanced output for a pair of college seniors barely old enough to drink.
Reed Juenger and Jordan Koplowitz met in 2008, during their sophomore year at University of Washington. Both were bedroom-production nerds and DJs with voracious musical appetites; both were searching for a sound not yet present in the Seattle music scene. It didn’t take long for them to fall in with like-minded bands around the city. The duo of USF, for instance, also emerged from the dorms of UW, and their connections to student radio station Rainy Dawg and local alt-weekly The Stranger guaranteed visibility for this budding chillwave scene. By the middle of 2010, Juenger and Koplowitz’s unmastered self-release of Surf Noir had earned raves from Pitchfork, and Beat Connection was playing shows regularly with USF. Last month, uber-hip UK label Tender Age, a subsid of Moshi Moshi — home to Hot Chip, Friendly Fires, and Florence and the Machine — re-released the album and Beat Connection set off on its first national tour.
Surf Noir is a headphone head pleaser, but on-stage Beat Connection goes straight for the hips. That a pair of bros with laptops instigated a raucous dance party at their Surf Noir release show this past March speaks volumes about the music’s mojo. (Speaking of volume: maybe the fact that they played the Seattle Science Center’s 17,000-watt Laser-Dome sound system had something to do with the unbridled crowd response. Also, the lasers.) Their steel drum percussion, profound bass, and a distinct four-on-the-floor house music pulse continues to strike a primal nerve in a new generation of wide-eyed ravers.
Look for Beat Connection on tour this fall with Portland electro-pop agitators Starfucker. Their Surfer Noir EP is out now via Republic of Music. Listen to “In The Water (Night Angles Drowning Not Waving Remix)” here.