The French revolution
More than just the latest duo to traverse the English channel to blow our minds, David Pollock reckons Justice are at the vanguard of a new musical movement
Although Justice are the name on this fine bill that the vast majority of revellers will be paying to come and see, there will be another Gallic bloke fiddling with the decks on stage here who is arguably even more important. He’s billed as Busy P, but you can call him Pedro Winter.
Winter is Justice’s manager and label boss, the man who created Ed Banger Records and who helped put French electro-techno back on the map in a high-profile manner it hasn’t enjoyed since Daft Punk were in their prime. Talked up everywhere from Mixmag to the Guardian since the turn of the year, Ed Banger’s artists create a typically Parisian style of dirty, hard electro, with memorable hooks, not-inconsiderable funk levels, and a heavy dose of sharp-edged glitch-house dynamics. Their songs sound sparse and futuristic, but utterly soulful.
‘I don’t think there’s a noise competition,’ said Winter, who also manages Daft Punk, in the Guardian. ‘But, definitely, it’s something [Ed Banger] plays with. We’re making distortion musical. We’re making noise funky.’
Winter’s artists, including SebastiAn (who frequently supports Daft Punk on tour), Feadz and the lascivious and mesmerising Uffie do indeed create sounds that follow a direct lineage from their already-recognised forebears, but each one brings something new and uniquely exciting to the scene.
Justice – duo Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay – are at the forefront of this movement, and theirs is a sound which transfers easily to these shores, both in traditional dance music clubs and with the large fraternity who have embraced the rock/dance crossover scene. Their fair-sized chart hit and ubiquitous club anthem of last year demonstrated exactly why. We’re talking, of course, about ‘We are Your Friends’, released under the collaborative banner Justice vs Simian.
Taking the vocal hook from an old and barely-remembered track by post-Britpop indie outfit Simian, the song was instantly, infectiously memorable. Doubtless it helped Justice to the level of inter-club fame they occupy in the UK today – as well as substantially raising the profile of Simian reinvented as the DJ duo Simian Mobile Disco – but it was merely a commercial calling card for Justice’s multiple talents. On stage, playing before their trademark neon crucifix, they’re instantly engaging to an audience, yet a whole lot darker and deeper than their most famous song suggests.
The perfectly designed inclusion of discordant glitch beats within their set goes a long way towards creating this effect, given that it’s a sound that works perfectly within progressive clubs yet won’t be troubling the charts any time soon. On their debut album – named, in what may be a nod to Prince, after said crucifix symbol – they manage to mix up this dense but still strangely commercial style with a musical tribute to Michael Jackson and samples from prog goons Goblin. It’s such an exquisite, leftfield sense of adventure that keeps Justice – and Ed Banger – among many people’s favourite noises of the year.