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A return to life for electro music at Complex

Synthesizers find a new aesthetic after the '80s- inspired score for 'Drive.'

October 18, 2013|By Steve Appleford,
  • Baron Von Luxxury curated next week's lineup of electro music acts at Complex in Glendale.
Baron Von Luxxury curated next week's lineup of… (Courtesy of Baron…)

For a certain brand of young musician, a revolution came in the form of a movie called “Drive.” The stylish 2011 thriller starring Ryan Gosling wasn't a huge hit, but its brooding, '80s-inspired electronic score touched a nerve with a new generation of synthesized players drawn to its waves of emotional sound. They were ready to break from the sharp edges and intensity of modern dance music.

“It's become a new aesthetic,” said the producer and DJ known as Baron Von Luxxury. “We're all fascinated by the rise of electronic music culture, but we feel a little bit outside.”

That new aesthetic will be center stage Thursday at Complex in Glendale in a night of music curated by Luxxury, whose real name is Blake Robin. The four-act lineup is headlined by Story of the Running Wolf and will include live sets from Luxxury, Let Em Riot and D/A/D.

The lineup is “a lot of bands that have a great love for '80s synth-pop,” said Luxxury, and most share an admiration for the music of “Drive” and its evocative electronic tracks from Kavinsky, Cliff Martinez and Johnny Jewel of the bands Desire and the Chromatics.


“That was a sound to a lot of ears that was sorely needed,” Luxxury added. “After years of banging 130 [beats per minute] electro, it was nice to finally hear something closer to 100 bpm or less: slower tempos, a lot more thoughtful, a little dreamier, a little less explicit. But nobody wrote a manifesto saying this is what we're doing now.”

Many in his corner of the dance floor don't much identify with the now-mainstream “EDM” (electronic dance music) label, said Luxxury, who calls Giorgio Moroder's torrid 1977 production of Donna Summer's “I Feel Love” his favorite recording of all time. He said the labels “dream wave,” “nu disco” and “chill wave” are more fitting.

The Los Angeles duo Story of the Running Wolf began making music before “Drive” was released, but feel a genuine connection to the emotional aesthetic found in its soundtrack.

“L.A. is the centerpoint for this genre,” said Jeffrey Chernick, drummer for Story of the Running Wolf. “It's a hotbed of people who want to dance.”

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