Gabriel & Dresden
Although well-known for their remixes (Gustavo Santalaoralla's "Wings," the theme from Brokeback Mountain), San Francisco DJs Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden have elevated their skills beyond the trendy and sweaty club scene with their eponymous debut. Alternating male and female vocals helps balance the effort as Gabriel and Dresden build and merge fascinating patterns of interlocking pulses that pay homage to electronic legends such as Kraftwerk while never totally abandoning their booty-friendly confines. Featuring vocals from former LIFT vocalist Molly Bancroft and former Syntax front man Jan Burton, Gabriel & Dresden successfully bridges the gap between mind-numbing trance fodder and edgy electronic pop. Making synths and samples sound warm is no easy task, but songs such as "Tracking Treasure Down" and "Mass Repeat" (a clever comment on the entire genre) are engaging and expressive mixes of movement and mind. Even the corny "dust in the wind" coda on the song of the same name works because the duo refuses to limit themselves to immediate conventions. In this context, even a bloated '70s arena rock reference such as Kansas works because the West Coast pair never takes themselves too seriously (a common malady among the techno crowd). Soundtracks for the scantily dressed late-night crowd rarely, if ever, offer this much intellect or pop smarts.
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