Blondes, Swisher

[RVNG Intl.]

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It’s tempting to lump Sam Haar and Zach Steinman in with the number of “live techno” artists who have popped up in the last year or three, seeing as they are, in fact, a “live techno” duo, composing their pieces on the fly, on hardware. This tag allows artists a lot of leeway when it comes to recording; whether we’re talking about The Analogue Cops or Steve Summers, there is a certain expectation that mixes will slip into the red, that parts will be off balance, or at least loosely arranged. Blondes have capitalized on these aspects in the past: “Moondance,” the 2009 (or thereabouts) track that originally endeared them to this writer, hinged upon a filter tweaked to the ear-shredding brink, then brought back down and tamed.

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The two have taken this sort of formative moment as a precedent to explore big-room power, albeit in their own abstracted way; the 12″s that made up their self-titled debut LP prolonged the rush of peak-time dance music, resulting in a kind of relentless delirium. Dropping seemingly out of nowhere, their sophomore album, Swisher, offers nine more tracks in this style and shows clear signs of improvement in the process. Haar and Steinman don’t seem to have changed their equipment much, as many their signatures abound, particularly the gleaming, sinewy lines and busy, thrusting rhythms. To bring things full circle, the record has few of the aforementioned “live techno” characteristics. The sounds are clean and bright; their push is heightened by well-timed effects and compression. The two have a complex synchronicity going on throughout, and the overall feeling is that these are well-blueprinted pieces executed on the fly.

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Swisher‘s tracks are more intricate than anything Blondes have come up with before, but they’ve also done a fine job at sustaining a sense of immediacy. Tracks swirl around central, defining elements: the visceral stab patterns that rattle around “Bora Bora,” or the droopy, repeating melody that melts into the arrangement as “Andrew” progresses. The hymnal pads on closer “Elise” are paired with sounds lifted from 90s NY/NJ house — typically tinny synth sounds, usually used for throwback purposes only — here amplified to newly anthemic climes. Haar and Steinman conjure heaving, hulking masses of sound, but ones which, in spite of their glaring hooks, reward immersion most of all. I do at times miss the pop aspects of their earliest material, but Swisher is far richer in its ambition.

maturin  on July 31, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Hey did you guys stop doing monthly charts?

littlewhiteearbuds  on July 31, 2013 at 7:20 PM

No, we just took a break for the 2Q reports, as in past years. July’s are published this Friday.

maturin  on August 1, 2013 at 1:42 AM

Ahhh forgot about that. Thanks for the quick reply.


Blondes ‘Swisher’ reviewed on Little White Earbuds - This is Music  on July 30, 2013 at 6:20 AM

[…] the review of the new BlondesĀ  album ‘Swisher’ on Little White Earbuds, here. « « Previous Post: Blondes ‘Swisher’ – 7.9 on Pitchfork […]

Little White Earbuds July Charts 2013 | Little White Earbuds  on August 2, 2013 at 12:02 AM

[…] ItaloJohnson, “Untitled A1″ [ItaloJohnson] (buy) 07. Blondes, “Elise” [RVNG Intl.] (buy) 08. Terekke, “Amaze” [Long Island Electrical Systems] (buy) 09. […]

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