u’est-ce que-c’est? The electronic music section at San Francisco’s Amoeba Records has a hastily written sign proclaiming “We now have Ed Banger 12-inches!” with a big arrow pointing towards a shiny row of wax by SebastiAn, Uffie, DJ Mehdi, and Justice. Ed Banger Records’ curious collection of leather-clad Parisian hipsters has ascended to the top of what has become a second French Touch revolution. They’ve clambered through European and U.S. club circuits by seizing the house filters and funky samples out of Daft Punk’s robotic grasp and pairing them with noisy, electro-infused synths and beats. 2007 has seen the label and their abrasive sound enjoy some of its biggest successes, including a massive DJ tour, whispers of “nu-rave” sibling status, and handwritten Amoeba publicity. French duo Justice (consisting of twenty-somethings Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay) is one of the label’s most recognized acts, and has finally released their debut LP after four years of DP-inspired club bangers.
At any rate: †. Yep, it’s named †, the typographical dagger-cross. Ed Banger head Pedro Winter, who just happens to manage a certain fake robot house duo on the side, told the Guardian of the name (pronounced “cross”): "We don't give a fuck. There's no name on the cover, no band logo, the album is just †." This is the sort of shameless promotion Winter (aka Busy P) is known for, breathlessly talking up his acts to crowds before shows and tossing memorabilia into the audience during sets. His pusher style and his label’s ADD electro-fuzz have given rise to the use of the identifier “blog house,” a reference to the initial online groundswell enjoyed by Banger and fellow French label Kitsune. But it’s rather sloppy musicology to categorize them by the media by which they’ve been exposed. In what is sure to be their one brief moment of young cultural relevance, these guys at least deserve a genre name composed of some arbitrary permutation of the genres they rip off… say, Electro touch. Catchy, no?
The weird thing about Justice is that they’re rarely the same frenetic Electro touch group when playing a set or, say, making an LP as they are on their singles or remixes or Busy P-chaperoned DJ sets. † is a big party record with a few exciting beats, as well as one of the few examples of desirable audio clipping. Older cuts “Waters of Nazareth,” “Let There Be Light” and “Phantom” appear, but these established hits are spread out, with ephemeral new material providing overly long buffers. “D.A.N.C.E.,” the spectacular first single off †, plays off a school-children sample and has more in common with the Go! Team than Blog house.
Auge and de Rosnay sometimes stray surprisingly far from their core competency—earsplitting levels—to mixed results. Provocative MC Uffie, obviously hoping to grab market share from the Peaches/Fannypack/Avenue D sector, guests here for a singsongy clubbing ode, “The Party,” dripping with half-ironies about getting drunk and making out. When “The Party” gets played at hip dance meccas like San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop, which it almost assuredly will, it’ll undoubtedly be tough to parse whether Uffie’s getting a laugh at those fashionable, druggy party girls, or if she endorses the lifestyle herself.
Ed Banger has been riding a wave of cred with these sorts of nocturnal partygoers for a while, continuously avoiding major media coverage. This could be partially due to the expectation of the scene to collapse under its own weight before proving its importance. A lot of people were predicting † to signal the beginning of the end: the sonic boom of the hype machine finally overtaking the scene’s jams. But instead of a rock-and-roll style burnout, † is, if anything, going to cause the old notions of Ed Banger to fade away. Breaking from the party-all-night aesthetic, † fuzzes up more calculatingly and less abrasively on tracks like “The Party,” “One Minute to Midnight,” and “D.A.N.C.E.” Sure, there are a couple of pain points and the sequencing is a bit limp, but if you consider that Justice really just want to be Daft Punk Jr., and that fully half of Human After All sucked, then Justice have achieved an astounding success. Oui oui!