October 6, 2010

Do You Have Robot Ears?

Album Review: Bag Raiders- Bag Raiders (2010)

It’s a crime that Bag Raiders aren’t more popular!  Over the last four years, Chris Stracey and Jack Glass—of Sydney, Australia—have been popping up around the electronic music scene with installations of their hyper-textured dance tracks.  Their fame peaked with the song ‘Shooting Stars’, an anthemic electronic track that ebbs and flows with oceanic might.  The song did well to characterize the band as unique in the seeming homogeneity of electronica.  The song’s nuanced interplay between the lyrical stolidity and effervescent instrumentation, showcased the duo’s knack for deceptive simplicity. Much like Daft Punk’s works, both ‘Turbo Love’ and ‘Shooting Stars’ appear at first to run in the vein of countless flat-brim laden house DJ’s.  However, with a couple of spins, Bag Raiders reveal themselves as complex and multifaceted sonic architects.

Unfortunately, until this point, that music came solely in abbreviated doses.  Over the course of a given year, all you could expect to find was a remix here and an EP there.  Though the quality of their work never came into question, one does wonder what prevented them from consolidating their efforts into a single full-length LP.  As a fledgling reviewer a couple years ago, I hypothesized that, “these two are products of the modern generation. In our world of iPhones, mp3’s, and ADD who really has the time or attention span to listen to a full album?”  Bag Raiders were simply sating a contemporary culture driven by instant gratification.  Now with the release of their eponymous Bag Raiders LP (2010), I guess I’m forced to rethink that notion.

From the outset, Bag Raiders lets you know this is going to be a percussive dance album.  ‘Castles in the Air’ opens with 130+ BPM metronomic drum machine and chopped synthesizers, pulsing as the track spirals and blooms almost psychedelically.  By the time key interlude drops, you’re already in need of a break from the head bobbing.  Other tracks display a more funky R&B side to the duo.  ‘So Demanding’ has all the swagger of a Curtis Mayfield tune (albeit a cyborg-Mayfield), with a superimposed velvety voice a la Daft Punk’s ‘Face to Face’.  The band also seems to infuse an island style to the effect of Ratatat’s LP3 and El Guincho on the album.  Much like fellow countrymen, Cut//Copy, Bag Raiders often depend on chanted choruses, which makes album listening-experience as energetic as a live performance.  The albums coup de grace is the powerhouse track ‘Golden Wings’ which tickles and teases your robot ears.


‘Castles in the Air’

‘Golden Wings’

So, are Bag Raiders a group limited to singles, remixes, and the occasional EP?  Heck no!  Then why did they spend the first 4 years of their career concentrating on them?  Who Cares! On their debut outing, they’ve shown that they can create a cohesive electro/dance album that rivals many of the genre’s established artists.  With the sheer diversity of sound, Bag Raiders are able to assert their vision and creativity in a field that has largely been mired by ersatz innovation.  A grand future certainly awaits these two if they can leave behind the gimmicky world of EP’s and remixes and concert themselves to full-length records.

‘Way Back Home’

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