Every week or thereabouts, Mutant Dance Moves takes you to the shadowy corners of the dancefloor and the fringes of contemporary electronic music, where new strains and dance moves are evolving.
Last week, Toro y Moi’s Chazwick Bundick reverted back to his little-used moniker of Les Sins to drop a new single on his fanbase. But whereas most of his output has appeared on Carpark Records, Les Sins’ “Fetch/Taken” appeared on Jiaolong, the dance music imprint run by Caribou’s Dan Snaith. When we last checked up on Snaith and his dance music proclivities, his label was churning out Snaith’s adventurous new music that he had been creating under his more “feminine” dance music alias, Daphni (and which will finally see domestic release come October on Merge). Since then, Jiaolong has also released Daphni’s bracing, acid-soaked remix of Cleveland’s synth space cadets Emeralds as well as a dance single from Junior Boys’s Jeremy Greenspan, quickly becoming a sanctuary for indie musicians hoping to establish a toehold in the dance world.
So it made sense that as Bundick’s tracks were aimed squarely at the dancefloor, it’d find a good home there. “Toro Y Moi has always been a project for me to just make whatever kind of music and not have to go by my real name,” Bundick told me via email. “It started as like a folky thing then morphed into rock and now it’s in this electronic phase. I got into dance music around 18 when I found out about J Dilla and Daft Punk and my mind was blown to find out that My Bloody Valentine — my favorite group — used drum machines.”
“Fetch” feels as sparse, primitive, and hypnotic as a Paradise Garage track circa ’87, chopping up a bit of vocals chanting “Baby, baby, you and I,” commingling a menacing bass warp with gleaming synth and piano line. “I guess there aren’t any rules distinguishing (between Toro y Moi and Les Sins),” he said. “But hooks and accessibility is always key for me. Underneath it all, pop music is what I love the most.”
“Taken” is even more playful, adding flute and hi-hats to the mix and revealing the influence that Caribou and Four Tet continue to exude on the scene. “Those two are way ahead of everybody and I’ve learned so much from their music,” Bundick raved. “I think musicians shouldn’t be afraid to completely jump genre to genre. Seeing Dan make that jump from Andorra to Swim was very encouraging for my own jump from Causers of This to Underneath the Pine. So when it got to the point where I wanted to make straight up dance tracks, it was a no-brainer. I just started making something I’d like to hear at clubs or something. But I don’t really go to clubs.” Does this mean we can expect more funky tracks along the lines of Toro Y Moi’s Freaking Out EP and this single? “I’m not sure where I’ll go next. But Les Sins will always be electronic music, anything from hip hop beats to dance music.”
Perhaps also bolstered by Daphni’s reworking of Emeralds’ “Does It Look Like I’m Here?” from this spring, Emeralds’ Mark McGuire has recently entered into the remix game as well, appearing on a recent batch of remixes of Hans-Peter Lindstrøm. Earlier this year, Lindstrøm dropped his most boisterous album to date, Six Cups of Rebel, a heady overload of sound from the Norwegian space disco maestro that seemed to be Prince and Art of Noise and Deep Purple and Miami Vice and Todd Rundgren all at once.
Since then, a bizarre cabal of artists have been picking Lindstrøm’s tracks apart across three twelve-inches, such as the aforementioned Mr. Rundgren (turning in his first ever remix some forty years into his heralded music career), Oneohtrix Point Never, Owen Pallett, Ariel Pink, and McGuire. A virgin in the dance music world, Owen Pallett (known better for his work as Final Fantasy and credited with arranging strings for Arcade Fire), tries his hand at remixing Lindstrøm’s “No Release,” injecting some hyper-melodicism and varispeeding the BPMs on the original. Not bad for his first outing. Usually, NYC’s notorious sleazy-disco duo, Rub-N-Tug, can be trusted to turn in a leftfield remix, but amongst this motley crew, they play the straight man, taking Lindstrøm’s vocal refrain of “can’t get no release” to actually achieve said dancefloor release.
Ariel Pink’s remix of “Call Me Anytime” begins as hissing noise tape collage before morphing into a poor man’s Ricardo Villalobos, all globs of bass, organ spumes and sputtering drums. Oneohtrix’s version of the same song veers towards the ethereal (much like his blissed-out rendering of standard “I Only Have Eyes for You”). Oddly enough, McGuire’s remix of “De Javu” is the most dance-friendly of the bunch, even with heaps of his guitar wiggling atop the beat, suggesting that other noise/ indie/ underground outliers might find themselves busting out their own mutant dance moves in the near future.