Where My Head’s At: Gesaffelstein & Brodinski
“Where My Head’s At” is a feature from Dancing Astronaut that gives readers a quick glimpse into an editor’s personal music tastes and how they developed. Subject matter will be all over the map, but we want to let you get a feel for individual editors, and where their heads are at.
This dance music empire is built on pre-packaged euphoria. Every break, build, and drop is carefully calculated to appeal to your ears and legs. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking for someone to sneer at the break up of Swedish House Mafia or to downplay Avicii’s brand of buoyant pop, there’s no shortage of music critics reveling in newfound electronic hipsterdom. But dance music was made to be enjoyed. It was made to be enjoyed with the friends, family, and fellow festival-goers that infuse dance events with a collective energy that transcends the individual men and women behind the mixer. Last year, I found that while I still enjoyed these experiences, the polished chord progressions and radio-ready hooks were beginning to ring hollow in my ears.
My tastes had been trending dark and underground for awhile, but it was difficult to bring everyone aboard my ferry down the River Styx. A Richie Hawtin show is a daunting prospect for ears accustomed to Steve Aoki. My interest in acclimation was unselfish. Hell, I could have fun solo and sober at a Dubfire show with the lights on. But I wanted to share these sounds with my other friends because, in the words of Plastikman himself, “electronic music is an ocean.” The coolest creatures live where it’s deep and dark. What I needed were musical diplomats of darkness, accessible anti-heroes who could entice people out of their musical comfort zones.
Love at first listen exists, and these days it goes by the name of “Control Movement.” Gesaffelstein‘s flagship track is simultaneously haunting and alluring, a gritty arrangement of ominous synths and industrial percussion that appears, on its surface, anathema to everything for which tracks like “I Could Be The One” stand. Yet I have never played it for anyone who didn’t like it — even if they were creeped out by his foreboding video for single “Viol” (which means “rape” in French).
The first time I saw Gesaffelstein was at Washington’s fittingly subterranean U Street Music Hall, where he put on a dark techno clinic that left my ears ringing and mouth agape. Black-suited and brilliant, he acknowledged the crowd but eschewed self-congratulatory interaction, pausing from his emphatic mixing only to occasionally puff cigarettes and pout. I was amazed to see unexpected friends repeatedly surface in the crowd, enthusiastic converts who formed a living testament to the music’s unique appeal as a gateway to the underground.
Missing that night was his Bromance Records partner-in-crime, fellow French producer Brodinski — but I quickly became enamored with his output as well. Tracks like “Let the Beat Control Your Body” and “Nobody Rules the Streets” are twisted and memorable productions that compel attention through innovative and engaging sound design. Masterfully layering synths and distorted samples from ambulance sirens to vocal snippets, Brodinski excels in weaving sinister sonic tapestries that are easy to admire and near-impossible to replicate. I can honestly say I hear something new on each repeat listen.
The volatile combination of their talents has propelled the duo to stages across the world and elevated Bromance Records into the upper echelons of its genre, upsetting the natural order of techno’s perennial old boys’ club. More importantly, they have guided new listeners from more mainstream genres to explore and enjoy eclectic and unconventional forms of dance music. Make no mistake, the Bromance duo are the hottest French export since Justice. Take it from the Ed Banger icons themselves, who were reportedly inseparable from the artists on Holy Ship!! and recently featured Gesaffelstein’s stripped-down “Helix” remix on their latest EP. Some have slapped the Bromance sound with the premature label of “future techno,” and perhaps it will stick. What is clear, however, is that the future will be shaped by the creative time bomb brewing between Gesaffelstein and Brodinski — and I highly doubt its blast radius will be limited to techno.
Check out Gesaffelstein’s stellar set at the Boiler Room Berlin here.