DJ Icey: For the Love of the Beat

Dance music is strange. There is no other genre of popular music that is so homogeneous on the surface, yet splinters into countless sub-categories. There are the basic sub-genres (house, trance, IDM, ambient, etc.), each of which splits into myriad sub-sub-genres (house splits into progressive house, hard house, acid house, deep house, etc.). Of course, the proponents of each will endlessly debate the relative merits of their preferred style.

DJ Icey is usually classified as either "funky breaks" or "big beat." These similar styles are probably the most well-known type of dance music to emerge in the past few decades, and are best represented by artists like Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, and The Prodigy. Some electronica aficionados have referred to this sound as being big and dumb, sort of the lowest common denominator of dance music. It's relatively basic, and it typically relies on heavy beats that pound beneath simplistic vocal melodies and aggressive chordal structures. Imagine if AC/DC played dance music, and you'd have big beat.

If you like this style, DJ Icey is about as good as it gets. His music is straightforward, fun, and great for dancing. If you like textured layers of sound, experimental rhythm tracks, uplifting vocal melodies, and spiritual soulfulness, however, that stuff isn't really anywhere to be found on For the Love of the Beat. But to complain about that would be like complaining because AC/DC doesn't sound like The Beatles.

Music: 3.5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
DJ Icey occasionally moves beyond the basic structures of big beat. He brings in the gospel vocals that characterize deep house on "Storyreel," "Playgroup" taps into some basic reggae and dancehall energy, and "Do It to the Music" builds around a classic track from West End Records that epitomizes the sound of the Paradise Garage. But the vast majority of what's here is somewhat formulaic.

Packaging: 3.5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The cover is an inspired homage to Herb Alpert, and designer Joel-O captured a subtle bit of retro sexiness. It's nice that Icey wrote about some of his favorite tracks, and it's pretty much impossible to go wrong with a Shakespeare quote.

Listen if you like: Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, The Crystal Method

If it were food, it'd be: a cold beer on the dancefloor.

1 comment:

bob_vinyl said...

It really sucks that AC/DC doesn't sound like the Beatles.