Electronic/dance music seems to be one of the hardest genres to find original ideas. Much of the music heard from this field sticks with a fairly formulaic beat that’s been heard a hundred times before. Luckily, PANTyRAiD‘s debut album, The Sauce, avoids these pitfalls to make an album that spins electronica off its axis and into new areas.
The duo of Martin Folb (MartyParty) and Josh Mayer (Ooah) spend most of this album combining unusual elements with dance culture to create a new type of beast altogether. The influences here range from computer bleeps in “Beba” to African chants in “Worship The Sun”. Many of the moments on this record don’t seem like they’d fit, which is exactly why they do fit. It’s the odd nature of this album that makes it a success.
Pantyraid gets the party started with “Crunkalicious”, an awesome beatbacking track that starts the album in the right direction. A few cut-up vocals over a thumping drum makes for a song guaranteed to get people on the dance floor. For the most part, this track is straight-up electronica that’s manipulated with deformed, off-centered beats and a fiery groove. Not a bad start to the album.
“Dreaming” works perfectly as a description of the first highlight of the album. The entire song feels like you’re moving through a dreamscape. The music sounds like it was composed in the rain as splashy percussion made of finger snaps and handclaps fills the start of the song. A ghostly piano plays a few notes in the background to help add to the feeling, too. More bleeps and bloops are gradually added as the song goes on but the focus remains on the light percussion.
“One Mo!” starts off with a shaker and drum machine that are joined by a heavy bass part. A distorted vocal duet between a man and woman add another frantic element to a track that in some ways sounds intentionally sluggish, as well. This juxtaposition works for the number, not against it. Halfway through, the song kicks into high gear and feels more like an overpacked club rave instead of the swampy undertow from the beginning.
“Headcase” moves into stranger territory as they start to break down the steady rhythms that had existed throughout the album. “Headcase” fades in like a radio transmission that keeps breaking up. Handclaps and swishy noises suddenly break through like a channel all of a sudden coming in clearly. The beat becomes jagged and haphazard but it somehow still feels steady and danceable. “BeBa”, on the other hand, is unusual in all ways except for the beat. The average hip-hop thump is mixed together by a female vocal saying “Be Ba” in the background. This isn’t any ordinary vocal though. The voice is what your Mac would sound like if it started singing. It’s the best use of computer-based vocals since Radiohead’s OK Computer.
“Enter The Machine” displays one of the most prominent appearances of what could be a guitar on this record. The echoey guitar works over a bass and drum pattern. On paper, this sounds like a song anyone can make with a laptop. However, the song sounds more like an alien ship checking all its systems before it either takes off or attacks. The track sometimes repeats like a CD that’s skipping but it helps to double up some of the beat, making it funkier than it originally sounded.
Though the remaining songs on the album are pretty good, they don’t reach the heights of these other numbers. When all is said and done, The Sauce is one of those albums that wants to punch through into the mainstream, but it does so without compromising the sound PANTyRAiD has worked to create. They’ve managed to take electronica music into fresh territory and will hopefully lead to some more exploration into the backbeats of dance.