Rating:Los Angeles-based DJ duo Classixx has been churning out party-worthy live set and remixing dance-punk favorites for years, but with Hanging Gardens, they finally release their debut studio album. And while the new albums by Daft Punk and Disclosure might be better soundtracks for clubbing, Hanging Gardens adds a blissful alternative to many of today’s aggressively maximal radio-friendly dance tracks.
In general, Hanging Gardens’ slow-building singles are its best cuts. “Holding On” is like a house remix of Neon Indian’s “Deadbeat Summer” – its four on the floor beat, wailing synths and soulful vocal sample successfully complement its hazy rhythm and strings. Even better is “All You’re Waiting For,” which features Nancy Whang, its sparkly, shimmery synths and wobbly bass recalling the ecstatic heights of Cut Copy’s “Hearts on Fire.”
Meanwhile, slower, more emotive summer bummers like “Borderline” work just as well in the post-party, 7am walk-back context. While the title perhaps too self-consciously asserts itself as the limbo between dance and slow synth pop, the song only sounds beautifully wistful, minimal and ever-present. The cowbell-laden “A Fax from the Beach” delves into pseudo-ambient territory near the start of its almost six minute running time, as the sound of crystals clinging together lingers in the background. It pacifies the listener into hypnotic yet exotic dance submission. And “Dominoes” contains more than initially meets the ear: synth stabs add sonic depth to the song’s simple beat, ultimately making an uncharacteristically introspective Classixx track. That is, until it explodes into an 8-bit sun shower near the composition’s end.
If Classixx can take a page from Whang’s LCD Soundsystem days and effectively combine complex musical and lyrical emotion with inventive, fresh disco beats, they might reach the heights of an act such as Holy Ghost!: one that isn’t necessarily top tier but sounds better over time, supplying songs that would be played on the radio in a just world. To classify Hanging Garden as timeless is perhaps an overstatement, but their reverence for disco, penchant for making great ‘80s synth pop songs and musical appropriation of traditional rock melodies renders Classixx an electronic duo to watch, one that is certainly capable of transcending its own genre to create something truly interdisciplinary.