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Kill the Noise’s Occult Classic: Nihilistic Dance Music

Jake Stanczak, aka Kill the Noise, doesn’t care what you think of him. The OWSLA dubstep and house producer/DJ has managed to garner a very respectable following in the EDM world, despite having a hand in some projects that have been about as well-received as a flesh wound. From having a hand in Skrillex’s uneven Recess LP to co-producing the embarrassing Shell Shocked song from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack to contributing to everyone’s favorite Korn album, The Path of Totality, Kill the Noise is nothing if not always willing to lend his production talents to some pretty lackluster, albeit admirably deviant projects.

Occult Classic, Kill the Noise’s debut full-length LP, continues Jake’s willingness to experiment and surprise listeners. On this album, Jake takes some of the trendier sounds in mainstream electronic music – electro house, trap, dubstep – and completely fucks with them in any way that he can, which leads to a handful of tracks that, in spite of having familiar, worn-out formulas, feel anything but anonymous. It isn’t the artsy, highfalutin approach to familiar dance music formulas that is Jamie xx’s In Colour. Rather, Occult Classic is a playful, zany effort that’s often times masquerading as an expected, color-by-the-numbers EDM record.

For the first few minutes of Occult Classic, you’ll probably be suckered into thinking it’s just another sugary, generic piece of EDM ephemera. Kill It 4 the Kids isn’t a bad track by any means – it’s a fun and upbeat dubstep banger with a massive drop and anthemic vocals from Awolnation, but it does feel a bit innocuous with its drop-heavy formula and emphasis on wobble bass. This sort of plainness carries over into tracks like Louder, a four-to-the-floor electro house track so bereft of any standout qualities that it’s almost biblical. Lose Ya Love, which, despite its use of an interesting Emotions sample, eventually devolves into a second-rate piece of festival trap.

However, tracks like this just feel like concessions, and they aren’t the reason why you should listen to this album. These tracks feel like throwaways put there to satisfy the more surface-level listeners that just want some loud drops and simple, banging beats. Some of the deeper cuts on this album show Jake taking his sound in much weirder, shocking territory. The second track, FUK UR MGMT, makes use of these otherworldly Paulstretched vocals saying “I don’t give a fuck” and “fuck your management!” The inhuman nature of the sampled vocals elevates the clanging, metallic drop to a whole new level of oddity.

I Do Coke, a track with frequent collaborator Feed Me, heavily utilizes vocal snippets of a woman talking about doing cocaine. “So I can work longer, so I can earn more, so I can do more coke,” is said in the sort of tone you’d expect from a snotty clubgoer. This voice is swapped out later in the track with these epic movie trailer-esque vocals repeating the same phrase. Comparisons to the Chainsmokers’ justly-forgotten #Selfie are inevitable, but I Do Coke feels way less generic with its brittle, industrial synth-bass line and outro, which is just a sample of someone snorting cocaine, chopped and looped to make its own rhythm.

However, easily the biggest left hook on this album is Dolphin on Wheels, which Dillon Francis co-produced, and YourEDM once described as “Dolphinstep”. All throughout, this weird vocal sample of a dad talking to his kid is played, asking him what he likes and doesn’t like, and the kid ultimately concludes he likes dolphins, leading into an electro house drop in which the traditional plucky synths are replaced with looping dolphin sounds and a Major Lazer-esque drum break. The track is pretty much unlistenable, but it’s funny for about the minute that its novelty lasts.

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