The LA-based production duo of Chris Gaspar and Manny Luquin are better known in the electro-house scene as party-starters Cold Blank, and every second of their debut LP, The Agenda, screams out like it’s trying to reach renown beyond that limited circle. Released on their own Burn the Fire imprint, the disc swaggers with riotous energy.
Opening track and early single “Onslaught” features Duran Duran’s original lead guitarist Andy Taylor on a heavily effected tear. With a hook, the track could be a crossover smash, but as it stands, it succeeds within its genre. The dub-copping build and drop of “Fire” shows the pair’s intense knowledge of how to kickstart the dance floor in any context, but they could have achieved a lot more in less time by using this technique once rather than replicating it almost entirely later in the track. The droning repetition of the female vocal sample in the majority of the song is a bit grating when not in the middle of an actual party, but then listening at home really is taking this music out of its intended context.
The sparser moments of “Louder than Bombs” (no relation to The Smiths’ version) have some real fragility, but these are regularly blown to bits by clattering dubstep hyper-synths and bass wobbles. The Super-NES squiggles and whomps work in the same way that the Super Mario soundtrack kept you nodding intensely as you played, only now you’ll be dancing instead of leaping Goombas. The vocal hook from Moving Units’ Blake Miller, the inane repetitions of “Time to use deception/ Before you lose reception,” doesn’t add anything of interest.
The intensity on The Agenda is turned to 14, and as the robo-voice repeats on “Los Angeles” would say, “We from Los Angeles/ This is where the party is.” Whether it’s in the shimmering swankiness of “The Downfall” or the rip-roar of “Onslaught”, the party is here, at the nimble fingertips of Gaspar and Luquin. That said, the album doesn’t stray far from a small set of tones and paces. While this might make sense in a live setting — why fix the party if it’s not broken? — it hits one note as a stand-alone listening experience.
Essential Tracks: “The Downfall”, “Onslaught”