Loading...
Bizarre Ride

Alejandro Cohen's Dance Music Is Unbuttoned Just Enough

Comments (0)

By

Wed, May 22, 2013 at 4:00 AM
click to enlarge CREDIT: CLAUDIA LUCIA
  • Credit: Claudia Lucia

[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]

Until recently, it was tricky to quantify Alejandro Cohen's contributions to the L.A. underground-music world. He's a Swiss army knife of an artist -- the sort of indispensable but underpublicized figure who inevitably helps form the dorsal column of any vibrant art scene.

The Buenos Aires-raised Cohen is foremost a musician, initially as half of Languis, a fondly remembered Eastside band that toiled for a decade starting in the late '90s. He is the artist as selector: a DJ at online radio shrine Dublab (where he's also general manager), a curator of Argentine post-punk compilations and the creator of audiovisual tributes to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. He's also a composer of original scores for PBS programs and documentaries, and a connector who is responsible for dozens of inspired interactions between seemingly far-flung music worlds.

But after the release of last month's Pharaohs, the eponymous full-length debut from the band he started with Sam Cooper, Cohen has produced something that deserves to resonate well past Western Avenue. Issued by the impeccable 100% Silk imprint, Pharoahs is a quintessential late-night L.A. driving record. It's a freeway glide full of acid house, disco, modern funk, synthesizer pop and minimal techno -- one of two essential local dance records to prepare you for the start of summer (alongside Classixx's Hanging Gardens).

"We weren't interested in trying to reinvent the wheel. Dublab gets sent so many records that claim to have a 'groundbreaking new sound.' How about just doing something well?" Cohen says at Dublab's headquarters, a spot that blurs the boundary between office and art space, with murals, live DJs mixing and enough CDs and vinyl lying around to rival most indie record stores.

He's 38 but still boyish-looking -- clean-shaven, with a mop of straight black hair, large plastic glasses and a Love and Rockets T-shirt. "We just wanted to make fun pop music."

That's a line that you hear often from musicians in 2013. Genre divisions are hazy. Art and fun are no longer mutually exclusive ideas. The line between underground and mainstream is often a viral video. Cohen knows that Pharaohs won't supplant Baauer anytime soon, but their record's perpetual groove feels like the sort of thing that could have topped the dance charts in Spain, circa 1991. Pitchfork called it "sublime" and "effortless." Fader called it the "perfect record to kick off the weekend."

"A lot of our sound comes from buying old, cheap records in a bin and rediscovering them," Cohen says. "You could probably argue the next big trend is the 99-cent record."

Related Content

Related

Now Trending

  • The 50 Most Beautiful People at Coachella

    So many Coachella-goers spend months before the festival working on their tans, their outfits, their figures, and their breezy poses.  There's a real glut of fabulousness, we have to say, both among those in attendance at the Polo Grounds and the parties surrounding the festival. Here are the 50 most beautiful...
    8
  • What Music Do Frat Guys Like?

    Frat guys were once thought to be the Neanderthals on campus, particularly when it came to their cultural tastes. But you'd be surprised the kind of music you hear at fraternity parties today - it's often more Low End Theory than fratstep.  To wrap our heads around what the bros are into, we...
  • Worst of Coachella 2014

    Coachella's first weekend was amazing this year! Except when it wasn't. Here are the parts of the festival that rubbed us the wrong way. See also: The 50 Most Beautiful People at Coachella Worst: Saturday Night dust storm (above) Conditions may not have been as bad as they were during last...
    4

Around The Web

Slideshows

Los Angeles Event Tickets