Balkans contemporary culture guide

Djrum – Hard To Say / Tournesol

Darkness fades in as every 5 seconds a shimmering light encompasses you for a brief moment, before enough visual stimuli can be identified to realize that you are in a desolate express train. The speed is high enough for you to experience weightlessness as with every second the accelerative kilometer-per-hour neon meter dangling in the lower right corner of your field of vision – moving as you tilt your head – increases. Yet, you feel absolved from fear, for although you are going through an electronic trip, you are in control.

Hard To Say, to put it bluntly, is an ephemerally amazing track by Djrum, which manages to blend a variety of elements prevalent in an array of electronic music genres in one, creating a perfect solution for dancefloor aficionados with a taste for innovation. Made like a fine sonic cocktail, the first sip introduces an atmospheric immersion that functions as the listener’s first harmonious breaths before entering an apotheosis-ridden adventure. The introducing beat at 1:28 although instant, does not feel abrupt, due to the shaker in the background assisted by the ambiental flourishes slowly pushing from the abyss onto the listener’s consciousness. The beat is kept by shifting percussive instruments and phasing channels of wet to dry sound, as well as swings from muffled to sharp sounds – one making you feel light, the others very fast. However, the most dominating elements that attribute to the song’s unique sound is the female pulsating voice alongside the gabber-style bass snippets and the organic blend of timpani within such an electronic and “fabricated” environment. The female voice eventually gives into sensory adaptation and the mind adjusts to her, perceiving it no longer as vocals but as an instrument, although that happens relatively fast given the constant acceleration of the mood of the song and not the speed. Whenever the over-arching bass is present, you feel a sense of closure and safeness due to its natural cadence; when it is not, the song creates tension that is destined for another warm release.

The second track of this dichotomy of a record, Tournesol, takes a more mysterious approach, where the intro feels as if one is in a dark room where the only visible thing is yourself being fully lit. With every surpassing second, neon brush strokes in effervescent colors strike around until the inevitable amen break appearing for a mere portion of a moment allude that this song, too, is going to get very fast and pulsating. The synthetic wooden cowbell that hits in a balanced 4/4 time signature is but one of the three steps that push this song’s saga about simplicity, one by one. Next comes the voice uttering chant-like words, as well as the electric xylophone giving the song a more infantile tone – simple tribal appeal, confusing the mind and making it subdue to this foreign and more Neolithic sound. It takes a simple dino- age sounding approach, with entropy allowing one to dance freely and interpretatively without following a set rubric of HOW to dance. Just when one syncs with the build-up-less sound, the dance pattern changes (4:54) to a gabber, mind-shredding tribal pulse that fades away slowly to reveal a moment of clarity: now you have entered a spiritual melodic. Female vocals again help bring the chaos to an end just so you can take a breather brake before you descent into dance again with a technological feel. You have just 4 more minutes left into the motherboard of the computed before it reboots, and you are left feeling reborn.

They say that there is nothing original coming out anymore, but I say that originality today has just gone through a tectonic shift where it constitutes a lovely mix of a variety of elements. This double a-side record does an amazing job at assessing the most likeable elements of jungle, breakbeat, techno, gabber, and dance, and managing to hybridize them into a meticulous uber-sound for lovers of modern electronica. There is no repetition, no boredom, only an auditory adventure with very discernible phases that are easy to notice but hard not to sink into. Only a handful of artists are able of being this eclectic
without losing their flow, where Djrum’s sound is parallel to Aphex Twin fused with classic techno. Conclusively, Hard To Say and Tournesol work perfectly together as they have the same motifs, but different ways of mixing them together, with the former being more structured, and the latter gives into and experimental vagarious sound.