Posted on May 25th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Matt LaBarbera

All EDM doesn’t sound the same, right? Of course, that’s the most common charge levied against EDM, and the staggeringly large amount of genres and subgenres contained therein. Intellectually, it’s obviously a false statement, but experientially, or at least anecdotally, it might not be the case; the notion of EDM Fordism, of cookie-cutter dance music produced by DJs with names as original as their music, is certainly an important one. It really boils down to one central idea that we are constantly reminded of, but we always push to the back of our minds—especially as we clutch our hand-numbered, autographed limited editions with pop-up story book and sheet of stickers: the simple fact that our culture is an industry. Try as we might, whatever we consume, and whatever we call it (art, guilty pleasure, top 40 trash, etc.), our commodities are produced not for us, but for people like us, for demographics, easily imagined communities of consumers. So what can you do with hyper-maximal, out-of-touch, overblown, overproduced, ham-fisted electro house like Uppermost’s New Moon EP? Enjoy it? No. Consume and move on.

Uppermost has been producing and releasing music for about five years now, but the most curious thing about his career is that he works in a style that no one else does. The last time people were interested in electro house was probably in 2007 when Justice released . “Music is Forever” has all the hallmarks of Justice at their arena-ready worst, with the trademarked burping bass and shiny squall of synths. In fact, there are only two songs on this EP that don’t sound pretty much exactly the same, and one is only distinguishable because it has vocals. When the first, second, fifth, and sixth tracks all sound the same, you’re not just aping every other producer out there, you’re doing it twice.

The two cuts that have the honorable distinction of having avoided being whipped into a frothy, bombastic homogeny are “Blame It on Love” and the title track. The former features UK R&B artist Jacob Banks, who has a fairly decent delivery over some military rolls, but the whole piece comes off as nothing more than the exact same thing every single other electronic producer does except, in this case, Uppermost didn’t draft a female vocalist. The eponymous cut of the EP proceeds as a ballad with plodding keys and chiming bells, but the bells give way to simple snare rhythm and a tired electric guitar grind. It’s a sound that has been so pressed and wrung out over the years that asking someone to listen to it is like trying to sell an orange after juicing it. When people make arguments for the diversity of sound shaded by the EDM umbrella, they should take care to not point in the direction of Uppermost.

A few years ago, the Norwegian comedy series Kollektivet gained a small bit of recognition outside of Scandinavia. It was primarily for a video they had made parodying mass-produced EDM. They discuss a future where "hitmusic," as they term it, has been outlawed, and they must bring it back. As their song progresses, more and more elements found in your average EDM cut make their way very conspicuously into the song until they have crafted the perfect dance single. It’s a pretty terrible song, but that’s the point. Now the problem with Uppermost and New Moon is that they sound just like the parody. By the time people are parodying your music, you must have reached some kind of mainstream saturation, but if you are making music in 2015 and the parody is from 2013, they’re not prescient, you’re on the wrong side of the s-curve.

Tastes shift and things come back. Nostalgia is a crucial component of the culture industry, repackaging the useless as a comfort item, but Uppermost must have been left out of that meeting because there is no market for the music he makes and rightly so. The moribund production stagnated and died for a reason. Is it right to criticize an artist for a lack of market savvy? Well, in late capitalism, there are some merits to it, but even on the level of the work of art itself, Uppermost does not succeed. He neither innovates nor recapitulates. His style is generality, not repetition. There was little room in the cultural diet for such tripe the first time anyway, so why bother again?

Track Listing:

  1. Music is Forever
  2. Disco Kids
  3. Blame It on Love (feat. Jacob Banks)
  4. New Moon
  5. Speed of Light
  6. Unison
Uppermost - New Moon Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

38 / 100
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