From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
As computer technology has become more accessible and music software had advanced, interacting with music production technology became possible using means that bear no relationship to traditional musical performance practices: for instance, laptop performance (laptronica) and live coding.
In the last decade a number of software-based virtual studio environments have emerged, with products such as Propellerhead's Reason and Ableton Live finding popular appeal. Such tools provide viable and cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios, and thanks to advances in microprocessor technology, it became possible to create high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. Such advances have led to a massive increase in the amount of home-produced electronic music available to the general public via the internet. Bands such as The Prodigy, Pendulum, Ratatat, and Nine Inch Nails are a few of the most popular electronic rock bands.
The industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero utilized a heavily edited and distorted guitar sound modified via laptop computer. Allmusic's review described the album's laptop-mixed sound: "guitars squall against glitches, beeps, pops, and blotches of blurry sonic attacks. Percussion looms large, distorted, organic, looped, screwed, spindled and broken." The French electronic duo Justice's album † incorporates a strong rock and metal influence into their music and image. Canadian band Crystal Castles incorporates elements of chiptune and punk rock vocals. Icelandic singer Bjork's song "Declare Independence" from her album Volta featured a heavily modified synth bass guitar sound and strong rock feel. Canadian artist Peaches and various aspects of the Electroclash genre often reflect a strong Rock sensibility. New York's Ratatat is often cited as achieving an "electronic rock" sound.
The concept for † was to be an "opera-disco" album. Xavier de Rosnay stated about the opera disco concept:
- "We stuck to our original idea to make a 2007 opera-disco album, even if we are conscious that some tracks don't sound like proper disco at first listen. The best example is the song “Waters of Nazareth,” which does not sound like disco when you listen to it for the first time. But if you forget that everything is distorted, the bass lines are just really basic disco patterns."
Several songs were released as singles before the album's release. "Waters of Nazareth" was the first single released by the group in 2005 and also featured "Let There Be Light" as its B-side. "D.A.N.C.E." was the second single from the album and released on April 23, 2007. The single also featured the song "Phantom", which was also released on the Ed Rec Vol. 2 compilation album prior to the release of the album. The song "D.A.N.C.E." is about and dedicated to Michael Jackson.
There are three credited samples present on the album: "You Make Me Wanna Wiggle" by The Brothers Johnson was sampled for "Newjack", "Tenebre (main theme)" by Goblin was sampled for "Phantom" and "Phantom Pt. II", and "Night on Disco Mountain" by David Shire was sampled for "Stress". However, the band has stated there are many samples in the form of "microsamples" present on the album in which the author of the original composition would not recognize their work was sampled. De Rosnay stated that as much as 400 albums were used as sampled material and spoke about the microsampling process:
- "...we do sample really small bits of things that nobody can recognize.
"Say we use the 'In Da Club' hand clap - not even 50 Cent would notice but if you listen to 'Genesis,' the first track [on †], there are samples of Slipknot, Queen and 50 Cent, but they are such short samples no one can recognize them. The ones from Slipknot, for example, are just tiny bits of the voice."
Upon release, the album was a critical and commercial success, gaining mainly positive reviews from critics and growing Justice's popularity. Rolling Stone said, "With loads of melodrama and not a moment of subtlety, Justice define the new-jacques swing."
It came in at number 15 on Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2007 list, stating in their review of the album that "Cross is a harsh and mostly instrumental set that nonetheless plays like the ideal crossover electronic-pop record. Justice knows how to sequence a dance album to avoid drag and boredom." The Onion's The A.V. Club called it "An engaging study in contrasts and a killer party record." It holds an 81 rating (out of 100) on Metacritic.com. The album was nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album ultimately losing to The Chemical Brothers, Best Dance Recording ("D.A.N.C.E."), and Best Video ("D.A.N.C.E") for the 50th Grammy Awards. They were also nominated for 6 PLUG Independent Music Awards including "Album of The Year". The album was also nominated for the 2007 Shortlist Prize, eventually losing out to The Reminder by Feist. It was ranked at No. 2 by Planet Sound in their Best Albums of 2007 list.Template:Citation needed Online music magazine Pitchfork placed † at number 107 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.
Usage in media
The track "Genesis" has been sampled several times throughout mainstream media. It was featured in an episode of the television series Shark and in television advertisements for Cadillac and Levi's. The song also appears in the video game Electronic Arts' Need for Speed: Undercover, and used in a gameplay trailer for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed II. "Genesis" also appears in the trailer and ending credits of the film Echelon Conspiracy, and in the film Punisher: War Zone. It also features in an episode of Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson tests the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series.
"Phantom Pt. II" was used for a Telus commercial in 2007, as the intro music to Channel 5's Football Italiano and featuring in Richard Hammond's review of the Holden Maloo ute during an episode of Top Gear. The Soulwax remix of the track was one of the songs in Tap Tap Dance.
"Waters of Nazareth" appears in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV under the Electro Choc radio station.
- "Genesis" – 3:54
- "Let There Be Light" – 4:55
- "D.A.N.C.E." – 4:02
- "Newjack" – 3:36
- "Phantom" – 4:22
- "Phantom Pt. II" – 3:20
- "Valentine" – 2:56
- "Tthhee Ppaarrttyy" (featuring Uffie) – 3:46
- "DVNO" (featuring Mehdi Pinson) – 3:56
- "Stress" – 4:58
- "Waters of Nazareth" – 4:25
- "One Minute to Midnight" – 3:40
- Japan bonus track
- "D.A.N.C.E." (rehearsal version) – 4:29
- "Genesis" contains a sample of "In Da Club" by 50 Cent. It is a handclap that is difficult to distinguish, as stated by Justice in an interview. This is uncredited in the liner notes.
- "Newjack" contains a sample of "You Make Me Wanna Wiggle" by The Brothers Johnson
- "Phantom" and "Phantom Pt. II" contain a sample of Goblin's "Tenebre (main theme)"
- "Tthhee Ppaarrttyy" contains a sample of Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly" This is uncredited in the liner notes.
- "Stress" contains a sample of "Night on Disco Mountain" by David Shire from Saturday Night Fever and a sample of "Jocko Homo" by Devo The latter sample is uncredited in the liner notes.