太鼓 | Danger

It’s never the case, even when an album is brilliant, for me to have any semblance of fun while writing a review. It’s work trying to balance history and opinion when discussing output from musicians. 太鼓, or Taiko, by Danger is different. It’s dope. It’s lit. It’s any other cool yes word one can think of that’s proportional to current millennial chatter. Without even getting to the listening portion of Taiko, the dark cover art, the producer’s name, and the title made up of Japanese symbols, that refer to a large percussion instrument, when the artist is French already sets a high expectation, or hope to hear something truly fantastical. And that’s pretty dangerous when you don’t have production to match the hype. Most good promotional tactics are wasted on generic headbangers. Suffice it to say, I was stoked and semi-ready for disappointment.

Danger, whose real name is Franck Rivoire, embodies a mix of aesthetics, namely deadmau5, Nero, and Daft Punk (which is far from a complaint) in more cinematic terms. He does cite the latter’s secret persona, alongside Final Fantasy video game character Black Mage, for why he wears a black mask during his live sets. He’s also listed as one of the composers for last year’s video game, Furi. Regardless, Rivoire has released a few EPs in the past, stretching all the way back to 2007, all containing numerals as song titles. Apparently they are named after the exact time he finished a track. Taiko’s 15 tracks also follow the same title naming process. But when it came down to tripling the size of an EP for the first time, it was far from a disaster. The album is smartly built by the way it clearly but subtly shows the build-up, the blast-off, and finally the come-down.

By producing softer, more minimalistic, synth notes across three tracks, creating the ultimate build-up, the progression was able to intensify the blast-off found in “22:41.” Usually the build-up and blast-off are forced into one, maybe two, track(s) for immediate satisfaction. However, he purposefully holds back to extend pleasure. “22:41” starts with light surges of bass, clicks, and stomping, picking up the pace as it progresses, before bursting into a screaming, metal-like, synth storm of noise–similar to the urgency that The Chemical Brothers embedded when producing the soundtrack for Hanna.

Immediately afterwards, one of the only two tracks with vocals on Taiko, “19:00” featuring Tasha The Amazon, instructs an ingenious way to include trap when you’re far from a trap producer. Rivoire blends the over-played hip-hop beats with pulses of darkness and free flowing breezy synth for a seamless trap-influenced contraption. Even though the vocals aren’t anything intricate nor are the lyrics, the message of escape fits within the album’s overall context. And the ending ticklishly fools around with the listener by minimizing sound from the right ear and transporting almost all of it to the left ear, playing with your sense of gravity.

About the time of “11:50” featuring Lil’ Brain, my satisfaction was wearing off. The album embodied a transformer-like mechanism but didn’t seem like it was fully utilizing its flexible power. However, Danger seemed to have taken my inner criticism instantly and re-calibrated courses over the following last 4 tracks by exploring new territory and exceeding the sound’s grasp without losing sight of the instrumental narrative. In essence, the come-down was on its way to lull you back down to Earth just like the build-up did in the beginning for the opposite reason.

With incredibly, almost unnecessary, long instrumental electronic albums out there trying to express cohesive story lines, Danger proved it was possible with Taiko to only need a respectable hour of production to form a fulfilling adventure. There was never a story or production drift, even when the two trap-influenced tracks made their rounds. It’s just smart fun, that’s all I can say and all I really want. LOVE IT.