The term “intelligent dance music” has never made much sense to me. Intelligent though it may be, dance music it is not. How many times have you shaken your ass to Autechre, busted a move to Oval or gotten down with your bad self to the sweet, sweet sounds of Pan Sonic? My guess is never. Unfortunately, this tag has already attached itself to the likes of the groups mentioned above, leaving truly intelligent dance music to fend for itself to find a new name for itself. For a band like Home Video, we may have to just make one up.
First thing’s first: Home Video make dance music. It’s not Basement Jaxx’s dance music. It’s not Fatboy Slim’s dance music. And it sure ain’t Nelly’s dance music. It’s dance music that has more in common with DFA-remixed Rapture or Junior Boys. Home Video, when put aside more traditional dance music, almost sound like more of a rock band than most 808 jockeys. But they’re more than just a little synth happy, and pack some mean beats in every song.
Secondly, however, Home Video make dance music for people in search of something more than mere beats. On their EP, Citizen, the title track embodies the spirit of what Home Video are all about — paranoid vocals, ambient synth tones, the slightest touch of guitar and some definitely groove-friendly rhythms. “We” is similarly eerie and mysterious, perhaps even more so. There’s no guitar in this song, just haunting washes of keyboard and steady repetitive beats, somewhat reminiscent of Post-era Bjork. The two-and-a-half minute “Blimp Mason” bridges the gap between the first two songs and the last two, sounding as if it were written to be a transition, as the vocals are pushed way down in the mix and the melody doesn’t move far beyond the same two notes. But “In a Submarine” puts everything back on track. The odd melody and nebulous vocals make the track almost sound like Radiohead remixed new wave style. But the aforementioned Junior Boys come to mind again, as the song contains the same futuristic-yet-retro sounding style that the Canadian group is known for.
“The Tundra” closes out the EP with some heavy bass riffs, some Robert Smith-like guitar and more distant sounding vocals. It’s an extremely post-punk sounding effort from the band, especially in comparison to the other songs on the record, which have a more futuristic, Orwellian feel to them.
Home Video isn’t afraid to make dance music interesting again. Though they may not fit in to any neat little category, they have the chops to get people moving on the dance floor, while others may be content just to chill amidst the sound of their futuristic grooves. Citizen is a noble effort, but ends too soon, leaving us to wonder just how awesome a full-length album by this group might be.
Junior Boys – High Come Down
The Rapture – Echoes
Bjork – Post
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.