Imagine some sibilant snake sneering at you in the frozen parts of northern Europe, inviting you to a fast-paced, adventurous dance-trek through cold wilderness. Sam Haar and Zach Steinman (AKA Blondes) are humanistic dance culture enthusiasts, and through the duo’s new effort, Swisher, the two not only convey such frosty imagery, but force it to be experienced in an invigorating, technologically tribal manner.
Like the duo’s 2012 self-titled debut, Swisher fits into the category of “transcendent house,” a sound that coalesces dance music with wintry conjurations and outer space. Unlike its predecessor, however, Swisher is less patient with the listener; its sounds are slightly less powerful, less easy, and less instantly appealing. This invitation and textured composition make for a more worthwhile, mature, and resonant experience.
Comparing the first five track titles between albums is the simplest way to juxtapose levels of complexity: Blondes’ “Lover”, “Hater”, “Business”, “Pleasure”, and “Wine” scan entirely differently from Swisher’s “Aeon”, “Bora Bora”, “Andrew”, “Poland”, and “Clasp”.
“Aeon” is the album’s astronomical opener, the sound of air physically clearing a pathway for a musical journey. That journey is “Bora Bora”, Swisher’s first true dance track, one that features an adventurous, tropical theme. It doesn’t stay warm for long, because “Poland” soon arises, that icy, friendly snake announcing the electronically superior caliber of Swisher and the relevance of its name.
Swishing can be described as moving with a rushing sound. Swisher itself doesn’t necessarily move with such urgent haste, but rather moves and changes quite slowly, with tracks stretching to nine minutes. It’s that distinction that makes the expedition through “Poland” worthwhile. Later, the sweet closer “Elise” is Blondes’ reminder that they can and will still produce immediately captivating tracks. Everything about it, from its hardcore synth patterns to its background heavenliness, is perfect to end a Blondes album, especially the conceptual insinuation that “Andrew” has been searching for this “Elise” since the album’s third track.
So, Swisher, you’re about meditatively body-moving dance music. You’re patient. You can transport us to other environments through sound. But maybe, just maybe, we’re tired of this snake already, and the true beauty in you lies in the possibility that there’s an entire zoo of future animalistic adventures lying ahead.
Essential Tracks: “Andrew”, “Poland”, “Elise”