Exotic Club’s dark dance music is an intoxicating mix of seemingly mismatched elements. “Alienation,” clearly visible against a dark night-time sky as backdrop. The album art is a perfect description the music contained within.
Well, it’s dance music for sure, while at the same time the effect of disassociation can not be overlooked. Exotic club uses the clean drum machine sounds and buzzing synths of a dance club, adding dark sounding, low and cavernously echoing vocals. When combined with the dancier elements the vocals seem to eschew the very aesthetic against which they are placed. The poppy, upbeat dance beats are not just countered, but downright denied. This is, as the title of the album states, no dance album. It’s dance music that is brooding and dark rather than the light, vapid instrumentals of the music that typifies a dance club. It’s dance music that’s run through an Interpol “Turn on the Bright Lights” filter.
I know that as I started to dig into this tape I found myself overcome with a sense of, maybe not anxiety, but more of a cautious and contemplative paranoia. Exotic Club has really found a direct line to some strange emotive places seldom explored. The desperately pleading vocals that come out of this dark texture, with lyrics such as “it’s Friday night, it’s Friday night, on the dance floor,” on “Lost in Music” that seem on the surface, reading them right there, like they are inviting and celebratory, but the delivery thwarts that interpretation in its droned repetition. The surface of the music, the danceable beats, drum machine hand claps, and buzzing synths paint a picture of a carefree night, while the lyrics and their delivery seem to simultaneously mock it. Ok, mock is a strong word, but listening to the track I think that the lyrics would be better translated as “it’s Friday night and you are supposed to be having a good time on the dance floor, so go have a good time because that is what it is that you are supposed to be doing.” Obviously, their lyric is better.
The robotic exactitude of the arrangement aids in the disassociation, by stripping away any human element, giving a deeper meaning to the coerced good time that the song is suggesting. Taking it out of the club is the track “American Zombies.” It uses the mechanical instrumental arrangement and dark atmosphere to comment on American consumer culture. “Runnin’ around in circles at the Walgreens, toothless smiles…,” listing off the automaton gestures that dominate the vast majority of American’s lives, and repeating each of these things line by line in a trancelike mantra, urging against deviation. Must consume. Must obey. “Forever, forever….forever….” as it is heard echoing into infinity at the conclusion of the track.
Melodies swirl and beats pulse, but don’t for one second take the music on Exotic Club’s “No Dance” as a given.
The tape, featuring a B-side full of remixes, is out now on Crash Symbols. Head over to their bandcamp to pick up a copy (only 100 made), or to download it if you aren’t into the whole physical media thing.