Review Summary: 9/14 2007 is something to be admired, and a good omen for the future health of both dance music and Danger's artistic ambitions as a whole.
Just to get this out there, I'm a sucker for concept albums. The Downward Spiral, the Dark Side of the Moon, Kid A- the best contemporary music, in my opinion, has storytelling and overarching themes at its core. Call me an artsy kid, but I stand by my prejudice: an album with a story to tell behind the tunes has an added air of seduction, more hooks and weight than your run-of-the-mill collection of songs, and when that story is intriguing and mysterious, the attraction and, potentially, the meaning carry over for the rest of the package.
Enter, then, French electro producer/composer/artist Franck Rivoire, alias Danger. He's the typical European DJ rise-to-recognition story: a few remixes here, a promising song there, and soon enough he's landed a contract with Eklero Shock. What to do, though? Release some singles and hope radio stations get enough requests to play them? Go out DJing to make money because the record deals don't cut it? Make some catchy beats for people to buy and pirate and dance and grind to late at night while intoxicated and mash them together onto a CD for profit?
With ambition to spare, Danger looked those options dead in the eye and said, "Hell no". He's decided to take three EPs and devote them to an even larger project- as a soundtrack to an animated movie of his own creation, drawing on a static-laden, pseudo-real interpretation of the B-movies of the 80's for inspiration. A dark jungle, a ghostly apparition, a looming pyramidal monolith, a protagonist on the run, dates for the EP names and times of day for his track titles- odd and paranoia-inducing stuff for sure, but intriguing nonetheless, and it all serves to make the music better.
As mentioned before, Danger's forte is in electro, the French sensation of diced, rapid-fire samples built up over a hard 4/4 beat that first hit the US with Daft Punk. Instead of swiping sounds from other songs of old (like Daft Punk) or pop hits today (like Justice) though, he takes his noises straight from his concept, with the old slap-bass, scruffy synthlines, and drum machines from the heyday of VHS and Power Rangers playing off each other in minor-key harmonies and quick percussion breakdowns as the one-two stomp of the bass keeps on pushing. He even sometimes gives in completely to nostalgia, like on 14h54, where the beat suddenly drops away, and we're left with what sounds like the twinkling of robotic stars. What's really surprising is that the EP never feels stale, save for an overly-repetitive (but still catchy) remix from fellow Frenchman DatA. From the first bloops and twisted notes of EP opener 11h30, to the midnight rave that is 14h54, and ending with the slick cooloff of 19h11, distinct emotions and settings are being shown, and the creepy, distorted concept behind it all can still be found, a glue, making sure the individual tracks flow together to make something interesting, if not danceable and full-listen-worthy.
Though it can't be said for sure that this will work as a soundtrack- there are only ominous clips and fragments of the film on Danger's myspace page- with one hand on his 80's horror flick collection and the other on the mixboard, Danger has gone ahead and made himself a unique sound in the dance music scene. Save for a misstep by a peer and the resulting loss of flow (it is one quarter of the EP, after all), 9/14 2007 is something to be admired, and a good omen for the future health of both dance music and Danger's artistic ambitions as a whole.