Everything is OK

(Anjunadeep; 2008)

By Danny Roca | 11 July 2008

IDM, or “intelligent dance music” for those of you born in the ’90s, is still used to describe fêted artists by the indie press that you don’t actually dance to—historically, this basically meant Aphex Twin and the Orb—but in reality is an ugly, thinly-veiled insult that cocks a snook at the suggestion that any thought goes into producing dance-ready hits like “Ride On Time” or “Where Love Lives.” Indie music liked electronic music back then; not dance music.

I hope we’re better than that now. Aren’t we? Of course we are. We love microhouse now and we recognize the genius that is “Voodoo Ray.” If we go to a house party we’ll dance to “Praise You” and Timberlake and everything. But, and be honest, when was the last time you went to a proper club? Where everyone gets dressed up, rather than gets dressed down? Where people don’t dance because they know the song but because they get locked into a beat? Where the goal is to dance and not simply to find some deluded sap who’ll allow you to pump away at one of their orifices until one of you spills some DNA? And yes, you’d have to deal with the posing, the stupid furry bras, the idiotic glow-sticks, the mind-numbing drugs, and the antiseptic music, but is that why you don’t go to clubs? Or is it because you don’t get it, because you can’t think about it?

Maybe this will help. Everything is OK is, for me, one of 2008’s standout dance albums alongside Ellen Allien’s Sool and HEALTH’s DISCO, and potentially the olive brand which may see Jaytech’s profile increasing. Originally from Canberra in Australia, Jaytech has been releasing tracks and remixes since his debut, 2004’s Music 101, a glossy black disc of emotional, progressive trance. Since then he’s worked with Matt Rowan, Mark Dynamix, and carried out remix duties for CPM, Micah, and AFK. He’s been getting props and airplay from legends like Tiësto, van Dyk, and Sasha.

Despite being built on trance foundations, Jaytech doesn’t just rely on the faux-spiritual “synth on string setting” block chords. He brings in outside influences and alternative atmospherics. Opening shot “Nighthawk” is a blissful glide on never-ending ambient echoes, water droplet harmonics, and muffled flutes redolent of Boards of Canada (without that whole creepy-whispering-strangers-in-your-head thing). “Highway Rockers” loops a gossamer-winged guitar solo to a Cassius hijacking bass thrum while “Solero” expands on Spirit Catcher’s funky trance with a percussive break built on vocal slices and a sunny chord progression based around the backing harmonies on the Jackson 5’s “Blame It On The Boogie.”

Admittedly, on first listen it does seem that in mimicking the whole X experience with the climaxes and free falling breakdowns that Everything Is OK is just another functional dance record. And it is that, at least in principal. You can shake your bits to all but one of the tracks on this album (the closer “Drive” hasn’t got the right BPM to throw shapes to or the right swing to give credence to the bossa nova pianos). But it’s not simply a trance smorgasbord either. You could drop the grinding “Special X” in the middle of any electro set and get a cheer from the crowd. Because what really makes this album so special is Jaytech’s ability to absorb tiny elements which suggest crossover appeal without losing sight of his first love.

Is that chirruping through “Pepe’s Garden” the intro to Bowie’s “Fashion”? Why in the Latin house pianos of “Vela” do the dirty bass line and 303 snare beats nudge towards Boyz Noise or Justice? And what about the choice of Melody Gough as vocalist? Never veering into the theatrics or over-the-top soulful melisma of other potentially alienating house divas, her voice is closer in style to Sia’s hushed purrs or the folky lilt which gave Beth Hirsch’s vocals on Air’s “All I Need” such a refreshing edge and made Lamb’s Lou Rhodes a decidedly outré dance icon. It’s almost as if Jaytech is playing the perfect host on Everything Is OK, purposefully offering small tokens of recognition and respecting a less committed-to-trance listener’s potential qualms or worries without drawing attention to them. Like making wheat-free cheesecake if a dinner guest is gluten intolerant—making it palatable, digestible and, most importantly, doing it without sacrificing any flavour.

This intelligence and sensitivity could, in principal, make Everything is OK eligible for that ugly IDM descriptor; still, it seems that Jaytech is less interested in us thinking about what he’s done and more about our emotional and physical response. He doesn’t want his music to be “appreciated” or mulled over. He wants you to get up and dance and understand what the trance crowd gets out of it. Of course, he doesn’t need to do this. He has his fanbase already—he’s huge in his homeland and a constant presence on Ministry of Sound compilations. It is, however, very gracious of him. Wouldn’t you feel unbelievably rude to turn down the invitation?

:: Visit the artist’s Myspace