12 O'Clock Track: Classixx's "Hanging Gardens," by way of Risky Business

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  • The cover of Classixx's Hanging Gardens
I heard about Los Angeles dance duo Classixx from Chicago expat David Drake two or three years ago—he had been hyping their 2009 single "I'll Get You" and some of their remix work to me for a while. But none of David's lauding quite prepared me for the skateboard-speed rush of the group's debut LP Hanging Gardens, which dropped a little over a week ago on Innovative Leisure. I've been reading that Classixx recall disco, but all I really hear is some of the keyboard patches that lit up Garage and boogie dance-floor anthems of the early 80s. To me, Hanging Gardens feels like the early 90s, from its cover of pastel-colored geometric shapes forming running pedestrians to its hip-swinging house beats. Like early-90s dance, Classixx's tracks snatch up elements of 70s and 80s dance but give it a house-y, sampled feel. At the same time, the force and volume of the music places it in the same contemporary context as recent retro dance albums like Tiger and Woods's Through the Green or Motor City Drum Ensemble's Raw Cuts, Vol. 1.

The title track opens the album with synths straight out of Risky Business (Tangerine Dream's "Love on a Real Train"). There's the same sort of hazy, fluorescent quality to the music that feels like a Wong Kar-Wai movie. But rather than float on through an ambient synth wash, Classixx drop a hand-raising house thud about halfway through, lacing a whining, saxlike siren through the twinkling synths and stomping beats. Towards the end, they weave in a beachy, heavily Balearic acoustic guitar, lightening the touch. From there, the album just ups the ante in energy and texture, making for what might be the dance album of 2013.

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