I can’t help noticing that a lot of the people I’ve been talking music with in the past few months have been voicing the same philosophical observation on the electronic music of the present — namely, that it seems simultaneously to be moving forward and backward in time. I’m not talking about retrofuturism here, how a bunch of Y-Generation artists spontaneously developed synthesizer-related eBay addictions and started conjuring a vision of the future once inscribed in the sounds of the past — though that story is certainly a related one. No, I’m talking about using the musical technologies at our disposal at this moment in time — whether they be straight out of our parents’ garage or straight from Guitar Center — and using them to dream up an equally fantastical prehistory: one as far removed from modernity and technology as retrofuturism is embedded in them, the primeval beat of the primeval dance around the primeval fire.
If there’s one thing Brooklyn electronics duo The Gamut know, it’s that all that imagined simplicity — that deep-riding boom boom, those two-note incantations that would somehow lose all their staying-power if they were forced to accommodate a third — is really just the stuff of pop. In “Distantland,” the centerpiece of their dangerously addictive five-song EP, Ghost Notes, Derek Maxwell and Christian Fuller hold this wisdom taut between four knob-twisting fingers. When they sing to us of “distant places” and different lands,” we cannot avoid the sensation that they are singing out to us from the opposite side of time — be it the extreme past, the extreme future, or even an alienated present. The heart-wrenching part is, it feels like their voices would never reach us if it weren’t for all the reverb, itself technologically orchestrated. The fun part is, this is really dance music — though it runs way deeper than dance music ever thought it could.
The Gamut, “Distant Land” (Ghost Notes, FM)