09 August 2016

Road to Justice

1. The press release landed in my inbox May last year. “In 2007, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay — better known together as Justice — released the single, D.A.N.C.E., which infectious beats captured a multitude of music fans… On May 14, 2015 the Parisian dance production duo will drop by the Philippines to heat up the Valkyrie dance floor,” it read. Why have these infectious beats not captured this music fan yet? I asked myself. So I searched for the song, which turned out to be catchy as fu…advertised (all those nods to Michael Jackson adding to its charm). I saved D.A.N.C.E. to my music bank then moved on with life.

2. The trailer for DJ film, We Are Your Friends, starring Zach Efron, came out in the same summer. Included in the motion picture soundtrack was Justice’s remix of Simian’s Never Be Alone. Despite Efron’s good looks and my inclination towards EDM, other forms of distraction won my attention at the time. I neither saw the movie nor heard the OST.

3. YouTube recommended that I watch this Zedd interview, so I did. One of the questions was what got him into electronic music (he was a drummer for a metal band before becoming Zedd). His response: he bought Justice’s album, “Cross” and figured he wanted to make music like that. While metaphorically throwing my hands up, I thought, That’s it, I need to sit down with Justice.

4. Played “Cross.” TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY, with its relaxed, almost-bored cadence, instantly appealed to me. But it was the vocalist’s affectation of coolness and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that sold the song. Imagine Paris Hilton playing dumb blonde — it’s so easy to be annoyed by it if you take it seriously; but take it as an act and you’ll enjoy the ride. DVNO also stood out as a sing- and bop-along tune that has a sense of humor about it (part of the hook goes, “No need to ask my name to figure out how cool I am”).

5. Went on a stalking spree. What are Justice up to now? Are they touring? Do they have new music? Research led me to this Euro 2016 ad, which features Genesis, the first track on “Cross.” Maybe it was the setting of the video, but watching it made me realize what I liked about Justice: theirs is the kind of music I would leave in the background — not overbearing, not boring — and before it could fade in the subconscious, a soaring phrase will suddenly grab you by the collar, demand that you return to listening. Like classical music, only electronic.

6. Played “Cross” again. Tracks sans lyrics highlight how rhythmically engaging Gaspard and Xavier are, and how thoughtful their musical decisions are. Let There Be Light is particularly rewarding. It opens with fast drum beats, then by the fourth bar a distorted sound drills through and grows coarser every eight measures. At the three-minute mark your grandma might already condemn the noise; but let it run for a few more seconds and the notes shall gracefully fall into a quiet, pleasant version of the distortion — there’s the light and we discern the supple skeleton of the song.

7. I wanted more. Listening to their discography was imperative. Listening to what they listen to was sheer pleasure. I checked out every available mix they made and stumbled upon Jamelia’s Something About You and The Paradise’s In Love With You — songs I just knew I’d play for ever but wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for the French duo.

8. Justice released Safe And Sound last month. For some reason the single reminds me of Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus — perhaps due to the choir singing, the dream-like vibe, and the fact that I can’t immediately make out the lyrics. Jenkins is said to have utilized the human voice purely as a musical instrument and thus created “words” integral to the sonic experience. I’m not one to read much into a song’s lyrics, but I think Safe and Sound’s work both on the sonic and, however cryptic, semantic levels. In short, I like it.

9. I regret not catching their show when I had the chance (the pain is aggravated each time I listen to their live album, “Access All Arenas”). But I’m not too late a fan. Justice confirmed that they’ll soon release another studio album. I’ll be waiting, stalking, and — negative reviews aside — watching We Are Your Friends till that moment arrives.

—Originally published on GIST.PH


Read Part 2 and Part 3.

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