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culture

Sound Advice: Simple Chemistry by Simple Chemistry

Simple Chemistry is a lot of things, but EDM isn't one of them.

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If there’s one music-related word we’d like never to hear again, it’s EDM. (Okay, technically it’s not a word—it’s just initials. But still.)

This isn’t because we hate electronic music—we don’t. It’s just that when we see EDM pop up anywhere, we brace ourselves for electronic at its absolute worst—all womps and wubs and sledgehammer bass drums and cheesy drops galore. It’s unfortunate that Toronto’s Simple Chemistry chose to describe itself as EDM on its Bandcamp page, because that alone almost put us off listening to them. Thankfully, we overcame our bias and ended up being pleasantly surprised. (We’re not sure if Simple Chemistry is made up of a number of members or just one guy. Its Facebook page uses the plural, but the album credits list just one dude, named Rob.)

Simple Chemistry’s self-titled debut EP is a lot of things, but not one of them is over the top and bombastic. If anything, its sound owes more to the electronic music of the ’80s and early ’90s than to anything that’s come out in the last five years. “Dancefloor,” with its repetitive, sampled vocals and analogue-sounding synths, reveals serious Detroit techno influences. (We say “analogue-sounding” because it’s safe to assume that Simple Chemistry just has some really good Ableton plugins, rather than, say, several thousand dollars’ worth of vintage synths lying around the house.) Similarly, “Side” has the drum patterns and basic backbone of an Italo-disco song, but is given a modern edge by the way the vocal sample is warped and distorted.

“Wind It Up” and “Chance” are the two most modern songs on the album. The syncopated drums on “Wind It Up” are basically sped-up dancehall beats, and the whole thing is drenched in chiptune bleeps. “Chance” even features a couple of sawtooth wave sounds that verge into wub territory, but it balances them out with a gentle handclap beat and more minimal synths.

As of right now, Simple Chemistry is kind of a mystery: we’re not even sure if it’s a group or just Rob. But we do know that dance music could use a lot less EDM and a lot more of what it has to offer.

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