Classixx’s release of “I’ll Get You” some 4-ish years ago changed the way I viewed dance music and helped put Nu Disco on the map (along with the Gigamesh Remix). Now, the duo has finally released their debut album. About a month ago, at Coachella, I bumped into Tyler and received a copy of Hanging Gardens. Ever since then, I’ve been “Holding On” to it while blaring it in my shitbox as I cruise around Los Angeles. And I think that’s exactly the type of thing this album was made for.
There’s been so much talk about Daft Punk’s
upcoming leaked album, and how it will save modern dance music from the evil clutches of “EDM”–which is fine, although now clearly false, as it’s not a dance album. Moreover, it’s detracting from a fact I can’t get out of my head: dance music has been in pretty strong hands for the past five years. While you have to dig below the Levels of Harlem Shakes to discover real innovative dance music, a plethora of it is certainly available to the ambitious listener.
Daft Punk is supposedly “bringing Disco back from the dead”, but there’s also an obvious problem with this statement: Nu Disco and Soulful House have been thriving (yes, partially due to Daft Punk’s Discovery) and building momentum like a bat out of hell over the past couple of years. Just look no further than Chris Malinchak’s recent ascension on the UK charts.
Which brings me to Hanging Gardens, an album built from an eclectic love of everything from Tangerine Dream (the synth nods are unmistakable) to late night-parties in Echo Park. There’s possibly no better emblem for this genre’s success than Classixx, the LA duo with modest roots who burst onto the blog scene with the scintillating anthem “I’ll Get You”–which, for the clubs, might as well be called DO YOU LIKE BASS? Since then, the production duo have quietly (and too infrequently) been releasing polished remix after polished remix, all whilst toiling away on their debut album.
After teasing us with some single releases, Classixx’s years of toil are ready for front stage, as Hanging Gardens finally sees its official release today. In a nutshell, it’s one of the best and more balanced electronic albums you’ll hear this year, brilliantly encapsulating the party, the after-party, and all the spaces in between.
There are many standout tracks on the album–their slick rework of “I’ll Get You” which definitely stands the test of time–included. But the special aspect of this album is, I repeat, this middle-ground or “Borderline” between the dance floor and the bedroom. There are tracks on this album that will make you crave disco balls, and other that will make you stare into a mirror. It’s fun and bold, all while emotional and reflective. This dichotomy further exemplifies the duo’s exceptional taste and influences, which all come into play here. On tracks like “All You’re Waiting For,” you can here snippets of Prince’s “Controversy,” “Holding On” is a nod to the robots, Fred Falke, and Lifelike, while “Hanging Gardens” is a clear ode to groups Tangerine Dream and Air.
While I don’t think everyone will “love” every track on this album, the ambidextrous s abilities should leave something for everyone throughout the album. There are songs on this album that make your head tingle and goosebumps arise, as all smart electronic albums do.
And this is just their debut. With their remixes and now this album, Classixx have done what all artists set out to do: honed a sound. As they continue to toe this delicate line between the stage and the bedroom, mainstream success clearly lingers on the horizon.
Out now on Innovative Leisure, you should clearly buy Hanging Gardens, but if you want to give it a test run, here’s the full stream.