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Album Review: Justice's "✝"
The story of Justice is almost as awesome as the music which they create. Two former graphic designers from France start playing with electronic music production. Their efforts produce much illness, which creates a ruckus in the dance music scene. They get a deal with what would soon be the hottest dance label out of the hottest scene in the world, a recent project of longtime manager and opening DJ for Daft Punk named Busy P.
Nearly two years after the release of Justice's "Waters of Nazareth", a track so significant that it has since ushered in a whole new wave of French electronica on a worldwide basis, the group has graced us with ✝, its Ed Banger Records debut LP.
Full review follows your leap of faith.
Justice builds upon a sound created by the disco artists of the late 1970s, and honed by Daft Punk during the late 1990s. The dancefloor sensibilities and exuberance of disco recreated using, ironically, modern sequencing software controlling modern versions of hardware based on disco-era technology, is what put Daft Punk on the map. Justice took one direction of the Daft Punk ethic, and have applied their own spin to extraordinary effect.
The members of Justice, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, have created a whole new sound. Instead of composing in a linear manner, Justice creates and collates samples, runs them through filters, compressors, and various other processors, re-samples them, chops off almost any decay, and assembles songs from the resulting chunks of sound. Experimental electronic artists, particularly in the drum & bass and experimental worlds, have been toying with this for years, but Justice is definitely a pioneer of this technique in the disco house arena. While Justice embraces the traditional sounds of disco and French disco house, they make those sounds as filthy as possible and then punch them up in a way more akin to the great pop producers of today then to their electronic brethren. The sounds of Justice have as much in common with Rodney Jerkins as they do with Hardfloor. This is the sound that has poured the foundation for the sound of modern dance music circa 2007.
Waters of Nazareth is the quintessential illustration of this sound. Its sputtering particles of sound are the sonic equivalent of throwing handfuls of Jell-O at a $5,000 microphone. The destroyed remnants of filtered bass and drums is matched only by the blinging high fidelity openness of the final process of each individual sound. This ethic has spawned a generation of followers, both in France and throughout the rest of the world. This is a sound that not only inspires the listener to dance, but to raise one's hands to the roof and make a fuck face.
Unfortunately, the version of Waters on the album does not measure up to previous single versions. The song is still dope, but the prior versions are better.
Fortunately, the remainder of the album destroys. My favorite track is Newjack, a full-on disco house, French funk workout. If you can stand still listening to this, then there is something wrong with you. No shit. D.A.N.C.E., the first official single from the album, is good, although it was clearly picked for its pop leaning chorus. DVNO is another superior track, with drum and bass samples so heavy they sound as if they are going to cause my speakers to suck themselves into a black hole.
When an electronic artist puts out a ridiculous debut track and then waits for a couple of years to put out a full album, I am highly skeptical. In this particular case, I feel that Justice took the time to get it right. This is not the best dance album I have ever heard, but it is quite good, and successfully fleshes out the sound of Justice, which is going to be a fixture on its own, as well as a heavy influence on other producers for years to come.