Replicant Moods

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The L.A.-based disco/house group Pharaohs may be made up of producers, but the songs on their debut album, Replicant Moods, sound like the product of jam sessions and late nights getting sweaty on dancefloors instead of long hours spent programming. Their sound is an upbeat mixture of old-school house drum machines, chopped-up vocal samples, and interlocking synths that pulses with energy so visceral it's very easy to imagine the bandmembers crouched over their gear with heads bobbing away happily as the songs reach breathless crescendos. They work acoustic instruments into the mix too, with occasional live bass and percussion giving the songs some organic, Hot Chip-style power, especially on the Maria Minerva-sung track "Miraculous Feet," which adds some dub to the disco. It's the only vocal on the album, but the rest doesn't suffer for it since the melodic current that flows through the music is so strong. The pounding, acid house-inspired "Syzygy" and the bubbling "Again" don't need words to get stuck in your head; the synths do just fine. Along with the uptempo dancefloor-friendly songs, the group also shows it can do dreamy and beatless just as well on "Beyond Within" and get epic on the very long (nine minutes) but satisfyingly dense "Above/Below." Pharaohs aren't inventing anything new here -- some of it sounds like it could have been released on Warp in 1992; some sounds like it could have been played at the Paradise Garage in the '80s -- but what they do well is grab the best bits from all the danceable electronic music that has come before them and consolidate it into something shiny and new.

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