RUFUS: Our 10 Most Influential Dance Albums
Local lads RUFUS have had a big start to 2012. The indie-dance trio released their Blue EP earlier this year; a killer six-track offering that’s very-deservedly won them praise from French tastemakers Kitsune and landed them high-rotation on triple j. Earlier this month, RüFüS announced they were taking Blue on the road, embarking on national tour this August with fellow local mover-and-shaker Elizabeth Rose on support – both of whom got the nod last year from Canberra heroes The Aston Shuffle as one of their Eight Local Acts to Watch.
To celebrate a killer 2012 for the group, we asked the boys to list their 10 most influential dance/electronic albums, and they’ve come back with an impressive selection that spans everything from Daft Punk (of course) to The Chems. Over to you, lads…
Of course, there are so many artists who have influenced each of us in some way or another. We all have different backgrounds in electronic music, from artists like Boards of Canada to Richie Hawtin and a whole array of genres – both underground and commercial – playing their part in influencing us in some way. But what we really hold an appreciation for meshing electronic music with clever pop sensibility; and through this lens we came up with the following list of ten albums that really stake a place of importance for us.
Trentemoller – The Last Resort (2006)
Trentemoller is a really important figure for us. If electronic music were a religion, he would probably be a god. His tracks are like ornate pieces of electronic art that take you on a journey; sometimes into the past, sometimes into the future. Each listen of this album reveals for us new elements and points of surprise. We love how he builds a track to a huge, cinematic climax, steering your expectations one way with so much tension, and then at the last second take the least obvious option and totally own it.
The blend of acute, technical manipulation with his deep awareness of mood has always been a huge inspiration for us. And the way he plays with texture throughout the album is such a feature in itself, the layered string arrangements suddenly dropping into an almost empty groove or a fidgety, sparse breakdown. There is a real soul to his grooves that we love.
Booka Shade – Movements (2006)
Booka Shade are one of a kind. When I first heard this album I remember hearing every idea or sound they’d introduce with complete clarity and thinking to myself, “how the fuck does this sound so full when there is hardly anything playing?” They seemed to find a place for every sound, which was so satisfying to the ears. They somehow seem to carve out a totally original sound scape that takes you somewhere else.
The simplicity in each song is a real feature of this album: it’s minimalistic at times, yet somehow accessible to a more popular audience, with their tasteful, intricate melodies weaving around immensely groovy bass lines. Their use of space in a track is enviable. Something dance music often seems too afraid to do is to rely on emptiness or moments of nothingness, where a bass note might appear once every five seconds and leave you waiting in anticipation to hear what comes next. Booka Shade navigate this space with ease.
Chemical Brothers – We Are The Night (2007)
This album copped a lot of hate, but what it did well was draw from all the best features of earlier tracks such as Block Rockin’ Beats and Let Forever Be and distill them into a sensory overdrive. It kind of tied in the whole Chemical Brothers sound, for us, that we’d been hearing over the years from stand out tracks and cemented it in one place.
The whole album was a step into a more poppy direction, but every track allowed the guys to exhibit their master status in production, particularly the poppy/indie style tracks (even The Salmon Dance – which wasn’t our favourite). We also dig the way they play with genre and don’t always stick to a working formula; they’re artists that we can continually refer to for their trashy drums, acidy synths and playful track structures and mood.
Royksopp – Melody AM (2001)
Royksopp represent this cool European-foreign other worldly dance sound for us. Their attention to detail and intricacy is something we massively aspire to. We were put onto this album early on and we still refer back to tracks like Eple on a daily basis. Melody AM is a benchmark of this style of blissed out downtempo pop that we can’t get enough of.
There is a real warmth to the tracks and progression on this album, with dreamy tracks like She’s So taking jazzy, almost psychedelic keyboard and sax lines, that melt you in to the walls. We were lucky enough to have supported them on their first Australian tour earlier this year and meet them which was a massive buzz. Also, this album is super good to get laid to…do it.
Moby – Play (1999)
You know you’re big when Eminem is taking stabs at you on his #1 singles. We absolutely loved this album back in the day, and for some of us this was an early introduction into the world of dance and electronica.
We were very much fixated on the production side of things, how it was just one dude in his bedroom taking blues and gospel samples and live recordings and fusing them with techno, ambient, and trip hop to carve out an original yet accessible sound. The chanting vocals and verbed-out tambourine hits amidst the soulful electronica just drew you in and left you with a feeling of euphoria and longing. This is not so much something we would refer to for inspiration, but just an album that shaped our introduction to the world of music production.