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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

TRACK-BY-TRACK: JUSTICE TAKE US THROUGH 'HYPERDRAMA'

Hyperdrama is out now!

Image: Julia & Vincent.


Grammy-winning, multiplatinum electronic act, Justice have released their hotly anticipated new album, Hyperdrama. To celebrate the release, the duo are taking us through the collection of songs track-by-track.



NEVERENDER

Neverender felt right emotionally and semantically to kick off the album. The music

is uplifting and full of hope, but Kevin [Parker of Tame Impala]’s lyrics introduce an undertone of melancholy and introspection. There aren’t a lot of definitive formulas, but we feel dancing while crying never gets old.



GENERATOR

To us, this one sounds like Getaway by the Salsoul Orchestra, but with gabber and classic 90s hardcore techno sounds. Disco/funk and electronic music at large have always been core elements of the music we make as Justice. In HYPERDRAMA, we make them coexist, but not in a peaceful way. We like this idea of making them fight a bit for attention.



AFTERIMAGE

We made this one originally as a 175 BPM hardcore techno track and then pitched it down and harmonized it to turn it into something more mellow. We wanted the vocals to sound like a sample, a perfect loop that we could have found on a soul record. We spent a bit of time with RIMON (the vocalist) narrowing things down until we all came up with that line we felt we could listen to forever. To us, it encapsulates what a good Justice track is, simple in appearance, tough but with beautiful harmonies and a climactic modulation.



ONE NIGHT/ALL NIGHT

We wanted this track to sound as if a dark/techno iteration of Justice had found a sample of a disco iteration of Kevin Parker. Kevin has a sense of melody that’s fascinating in the sense that he manages to write melodies that feel both simple and natural, but very peculiar at the same time. This song oscillates between pure electronic music and pure disco but you never really get the two at the same time. This very idea of switching instantly from a genre to another within a song runs through the whole record, and is maybe showcased the clearest in One Night/All Night.



DEAR ALAN

This track is based on a choir sample by Chris Rainbow called Dear Brian, a song he made as an ode to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. We wrote a disco tune around it until it sounded like a filtered disco loop, and then adorned it with constantly evolving synths sequences, like a feverish dream. The name of the track is a wink to the tune we sampled but also to Alan Braxe, a pioneer of the so-called French Touch and musical hero of ours.



INCOGNITO

Like many songs on this record, it switches from all electronic to all human music abruptly multiple times within its four minute run. The structure is dictated by what feels good at the moment it happens, without necessarily following any other rule. We had to unlearn everything we thought we knew about song structures, and music in general, when we started working on HYPERDRAMA, which was very refreshing.



MANNEQUIN LOVE

A duet of young, British twins, The Flints, sing on this song. This is the most traditional tune of the album in terms of orchestration and structure, but we loved the simplicity of the verse/chorus shift too much not to use it. We tiptoed a lot around the song until George and Henry cracked the chorus melody code, and from there, the rest flowed easily. The lyrics are about complacent love and interactions between humans and computational intelligence, power or simply objects. A lot of our music blurs the line between what’s handmade and what’s computer processed although that’s the only song in which the lyrics evoke this topic.



MOONLIGHT RENDEZ-VOUS

This is the turning point where the album takes a stepside to prepare for the finale. It’s a bit of an antiquated drive, but long formats and albums are the reasons why we ultimately make music. We still have no idea what a hit is, or what a club track is. Or at least we never start a song with this type of plan in mind. Moonlight is a retrofuturistic jazz-ish theme, which sounds very much like a P.I. drinking a cheap bourbon after a shitty day. He looks through the window only to see skyscrapers, androids and neons. It’s raining.



EXPLORER

Moonlight Rendez-Vous and Explorer go together as one song. We wrote it as a futuristic broken version of some of the 90’s R’n’B that we used to listen to when younger. We saw it as a damp, exotic landscape, and then there’s Connan Mockasin. We felt having him appearing near the end of what seems to be an instrumental track would create the appropriate climax. We noticed how beautiful his spoken voice is while discussing the track with him, and asked him to talk over the song. He describes a sort of [70’s french comic book artist] Moebius mirage before landing on a soulful note.



MUSCLE MEMORY

It's gonna sound awfully pretentious, and it's not meant to be, but it's a bit like how we imagine contemporary classical music made by machines to be. Of course it's not violins and horns or even a piano being used, but we feel there are some similarities in the orchestration, arrangements and emotion range. It's important to have unpleasant moments in an album, in a song, in a book or a film. Something unsettling and a bit demanding, before getting back home. 



HARPY DREAM

We wrote this extension of Muscle Memory in order to lead us to Saturnine. The name is an anagram of HYPERDRAMA.



SATURNINE

We don’t think we’ve ever made anything that sounds remotely like this track before.

It started with Gaspard playing around with an E-mu synthesizer guitar sound, and he found the main riff. The rest came very quickly. We love Miguel’s voice when it’s raw. We wanted him to sound outrageously frontal, with no space around his voice. We felt confident we could make this work with a single mono take of his voice, and minimal processing. It also suited the theme of the song, that’s this sort of fear and loathing in Las Vegas sweaty, hallucinatory flow. Feeling well in feeling bad.



THE END

Like Kevin, Connan and Miguel, Thundercat was one of the musicians we’ve been wanting to work with for a very long time. They, but also The Flints and Rimon, represent something that we love in the music of today. They’re autonomous artists, accomplished musicians and producers, and it probably helped instil the feeling that they were all a third member of Justice for one or two songs, rather than some people just coming in to sing on a track. We coincidentally wrapped Neverender and The End within the same time period, and they both felt like natural opening and closing songs respectively.



HYPERDRAMA is out now!


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