Vice's Thump is a rapidly expanding brand name in electronic music journalism. Charged with covering the incredibly diverse electronica scene with the same cooler-than swagger of its parent organization, Thump's search for the scuzziest, droniest and weirdest electronic music out there has increasingly led the site's gaze outside of the States and across the globe.
So it was little surprise that this week saw the release a new Thump-exclusive mix by Peru’s Dengue Dengue Dengue! (henceforth referred to as D3, 'cause duh, right?).
And why wouldn’t the electronic music community be psyched for this mix? D3, comprised of Lima’s Felipe Salmon and Rafael Pereira, major players in the Peruvian dance scene, have been making waves in electro-cumbia movement with their brand of very mellow retr0-futurism (Something we've previously noted).
Their mix on Thump is a near perfect distillation of their sound. It is a continuous hour of amorphous bass synths, chopped clap samples and sine-wave melodies, packed between the sounds of familiar DJ effects like bursting bubbles and samples of dialog scrubbed of all high-end frequencies. It is slow and dynamically static. It contains traces of the jungles it references, but keeps its cool even as the dances it implies do not. There is melodic content, but this is not melodic music. The mix is all resonant basses, multilayered hand claps, arpeggiated guitar lines drowned in vibrato, jangly shakers and sparkly tambourines.
Perhaps rather than describing what D3’s music does sound like, it's better to discuss what it doesn’t sound like. Their new mix does not race by at a falcon’s speed, it doesn’t whirl maniacally like a clothes dryer, and it will not pummel its listeners like a dubstep track (though there is plenty dub about it). There are no MCs on the personnel list, no breakdowns in the sequence, and no focal point to speak of.
And that’s one of the real issues with this otherwise excellent release. That the duo is highly cool, beloved by music journalists and attached to an ultra-hip label shouldn’t really make a lick of difference. But it seems to carry more weight given the fact that this music, while great, falls well short of amazing. It is pleasing to the ears and agreeable to the hips, but meanders between rapidly calcifying tropes of the electro-cumbia sound without offering much embellishment. At many points, it seems to simply exist, pulsing forward without complaint or encouragement. It neither insists that you boogie nor repels you from the dance floor.
But Dengue Dengue Dengue!’s Thump mix does ask you if you’re ready to chill, and your answer will be “yes."