By Ben Norman
Versatility is the name of the game these days. As an electronic producer, you have to be able to tackle all bases, especially with the wide turning radius that the dance mainstream has. Ranging from stadium beats to dubstep to electro club music, you’ve got to be able to handle it all. That’s why Klaypex, Miami’s own, have risen to this challenge with their album Ready To Go. A title which pretty much sums it all up. You need dubstep? Check. You need Avicii-esque stadium beats? Here you go, ma’am. Their music isn’t done with irony, it isn’t created just to ride the wave; Klaypex aim to generally improve upon these musical means, to bring up the bar of acceptable standards. Their dubstep glitters with melody and inflection, their club music hits just a little harder than you’d expect them to. And when they break out a featured singer, she isn’t your typical choice (although she has worked with Klaypex in the past), and her voice is far from what you’d expect.
Take the title track, for example. “Ready To Go” sparkles, the dubstep of the track taking a back seat to the flourishes of electro production that wiggle throughout, all culminating in the stuttered question, “Are you ready to go?” The track is a challenge, twofold. It’s challenging dubstep producers to step it up, as the genre is already getting its licks for being tired (sorry Skrillex), and it’s challenging you, the listener. Are you ready to go? The same goes for “Stars,” with guest vocalist Sara Kay. Her vocals are stuttered and stretched over this dubstep track, not as a vehicle to deliver you lyrics, but as another instrument in their twisted orchestra. The intertwining melody with the trademark “wub wubs” of dubstep again raise the bar on what listeners should expect with the recent addition to the arsenal of electronic genres. “Too Late” is another fun dubstep track that stretches the electro elements of the genre out to make it, if possible, even more like walking uphill in molasses in January. As a mark against Klaypex, “Secrets” follows too closely to their prior dubstep recipes, so it doesn’t have the same giddying effect as “Ready to Go” and “Stars”. It isn’t bad though, with lyrics delivered by an emotionally wounded male singer.
Klaypex goes downbeat
Klaypex hits the downbeat, too, with a collection of tracks that are both too slow for club music and too consistent for dubstep. “Manners” is a great start, and while the obvious dubstep elements are present, it’s that slow steady beat that takes this track into a new territory. There’s a melody and an aggression here that’s worth noting, but it takes a backseat to “Double Vision,” which practically crackles with effervescent energy. “Double Vision” sounds like what would happen if Bodyrox tried to make a dubstep track out of “Yeah Yeah” (sadly without Luciana). There’s a wonderful inclusion of synth chords and pop-like progression laced through the steady beat and growling bass wobbles. “Crazy” takes the middle ground between the two, some truly interesting percussion beginning the track but ending in some sort of plodding grey area that sounds both engaging and tedious.
And Klaypex goes upbeat as well
On the upbeat side, Klaypex really seems to enjoy throwing as much electronic noise into their club tracks as possible. Take “Hello,” which is not an interpretation of the Martin Solveig track but instead a stadium track tinged with dubstep flourishes, like if Avicii and Nero did a track together. “Petrified” moves as if it’s anything but, frantic instrumentation winding fluidly inbetween lush synths and the distant hint of vocals that push themselves ethereally to the forefront. “You Mad” sounds like the angrier older brother of “Petrified,” hitting you with beats rather than caressing you with nuance. Sara Kay’s other contribution to Ready To Go, “Sunrise,” is a fun club number with its roots firmly in the ground. There’s plenty of bass to blow your speakers out while Sara gives her best vocal trance delivery, the sound again bringing Bodyrox to mind. Wrapping up the album, “Song 12” begins in some pretty trancy territory, dredged through cerebral sounds before delving headfirst into a pool of bass, with a packed dance floor on the other side of this large, oppressive body of water. That’s what it takes to get to the synths and beats of “Song 12,” and it’s a worthy progression.
Klaypex’s album can be streamed in it’s entirety on Soundcloud, and if you’re itching for some mixes of their music, check out their Facebook page, where the duo has linked to free remixes of their works.
There’s a lot to like here, and some that can be skipped. It’s nice to see a group incorporate so many different elements into their music, keeping electro, dubstep, and mainstream electronica both so engaging and fresh while also keeping you rooted in those familiar nuances. They have some room to grow, to broaden their sound, and to potentially get some new voices into their music. So while Ready To Go is a solid effort, to say that Klaypex has peaked would definitely be an overstatement. This duo has more to say, more to give us, and I can’t wait. For stand outs, check out “Ready To Go,” “Song 12,” and “Sunrise.”
Released April 2012 on Klaypex Records.