By Ryan, Contributing Writer
Yes. I’m very well aware that Halloween isn’t for another five months, but don’t tell that to Australian electronic duo Knife Party (both of Pendulum fame). Venturing out of their usual drum and bass groove, they’re experimenting with electro house with positive outcomes. Their latest EP, Haunted House, is a nasty, heavy-hitting set of four tracks. Like any other EP, it’s not too long, but it’s long enough to make you want more (heads out of the gutter now, children).
The first track, Power Glove, is named after the Nintendo peripheral for the NES. Sadly, I’m too young to have ever owned one myself or know anyone who had older siblings who had one (I was a pretty lonely kid), but I hear stories about how people love(d) it. Anyway, the song is interspersed with the tagline for the Powerglove’s marketing campaign “Now you’re playing with power!” in a voice that reminds me of an early ’90s horror movie trailer announcer played through fuzzy speakers. It adds the perfect amount of creepiness to the track. It kicks off with a slow build-up that gets you warmed up and ready for the rest of the track and the rest of the EP. There’s not much messing around on this track, to be honest. It’s a straight forward track that gives you a few crests and falls before it really punches you in the face with the synths on top of the driving bass. Once it kicks in, it’s a track you’d want in an action movie. Just imagine a spy chasing a bad-guy through a night club. Then, imagine that the bad-guy finds a place to hide and arms a bomb, getting it ready to blow up the spy. But, before he can set it off, the spy jumps into the room, kicks the shit out of the bad-guy (while the bomb timer flashes on the screen as it counts down). Naturally, the spy wins and sits down and takes a few deep breaths after disarming the bomb. That’s what Powerglove is like after the first few crests and dips.
The next track, LRAD, is named after a Long Range Acoustic Device. These are gnarly acoustic weapons that blast tones/sounds over long distances to disperse crowds and incapacitate people. It’s not a fun time. But, you know what is? Listening to LRAD. This track is very unassuming in the lead-in. It’s got a catchy little groove that makes you feel all safe and cozy, but it builds and builds without you even realizing. Soon enough, it drops out and you’ve a few moments of calm before the synths come in. It’s like being in a European club (without the bass). There’s a little drumbeat going on in the backtrack to keep you in time, but that ends up building in addition to everything else and it all comes together in a nice moment of acoustic headiness which drops out from under you and you’re left with a nice bass-dominant section. If you listen to this part in the dark, with your eyes closed, you get one of those drug-less highs. It’s something I’d throw on during an after party. People are crashed on the couch, you’re all a little drunk, and you just want to watch the laserlights and blacklights play on the wall. It’s a good track to bring you down off of a dance-heavy night. But, it picks back up! There’s another moment of calm before it comes back in with the synth line and drags you up off of your high-but-really-not-high ass and makes you want to dance out the last of your drunk energy before you collapse in a heap. It builds and builds until, BOOM. It drops out again and you’ve got that bass-heavy section again. It took me a while to figure it out, but I think the effects they’re using are distorted tones from banging on PVC pipe (like Blue Man Group). Soon enough, it’s done. And, all you want to do is pass out.
EDM Death Machine is my favorite track on this EP. This track comes out and tells you how it is. “In the future, nobody will drop the bass. No one will do the Harlem Shake. No one will know bitches love cake. There will be no Internet Friends. There will be no antidote. The human race will be extinct.” The references to “Internet Friends” and the “Antidote” refer to other tracks that Knife Party have put out. I think this is the most consistent track. It’s fairly steady with only a few points where it drops out. The first drop and build consists of light bass, machine noises, and some synth before you’re told “Say hello to the robots.” That’s when all hell breaks loose. Nasty, fast-paced electro comes out of the speakers and engulfs you. It’s like a fever and all you can do it sit and ride it out. You feel like you’re in the best sci-fi movie ever, flying around in a starship and fighting aliens. It drops down again and they say “Now check this out” a few times before they give you a little somethin’-somethin’ to check out. It’s like you’re transported back to the ’90s with the synths they use. And, again, they want you to greet our future mechanical overlords. If they drop bombs like this on me, then I’m more than happy to serve the robot taskmasters.
Internet Friends (VIP) is a remix of their track Internet Friends off of their debut EP 100% No Modern Talking released in 2011. It’s NSFW. I’m just throwing that out there. A story unfolds between yourself and a lady (presumably a robot) that you meet online. What happens is that you stop talking to her (it?) and she comes and finds you. There’s a short interlude where they play an iPhone’s default xylophone ringtone, some knocking, a window being smashed, and then the robot lady’s voice saying “You blocked me on Facebook. And, now, you are going to get fucked up.” The lesson here is that you shouldn’t talk to strangers on the internet (unless you want to listen to awesome tunes). This is a great remix of the original track. I actually prefer this to the original. It’s a little faster and more frenetic, but it layers the original synth tracks and melodies a little more to give it some urgency. And, I liked the subtle change to “And, now, you are going to get fucked up.” from the original “And, now, you are going to die.” It’s a little more hopeful.
Check out this EP. It’ll make you wish Halloween was right around the corner. Or, if you’re planning on shooting a horror movie, throw some of these tracks on the soundtrack. You won’t be disappointed.