New French Extremism: The Sounds of Danger
French electronic artist Danger (Franck Rivoire) is an enigmatic performer who would be equally at home in a Paris nightclub or walking the streets of an irradiated dystopian city. This is in part because of his iconic mask, which hides his visage during performances and looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic hell dimension (it’s hard to say which side—good or bad—he’d be on).
It’s also because he’s a talented, groundbreaking artist who melds performance, visuals, and synthesized sound to create music with a dark, brooding core that connects technical innovation to emotional rawness. Rivoire is an accomplished producer and a graphic designer, a skill he has made use of in his shows, on the Web, and in his album artwork, which is often populated by pyramids and other ancient Egyptian iconography (in interviews, he cites his archaeologist grandfather as influencing his interest in ancient cultures).
His musical education began early in life when he learned to play piano and saxophone, training which he followed by stints in punk and jazz bands. His interests developed alongside his love of video games, and these two passions coalesced when he began composing on a synthesizer and creating chiptunes using Amiga and Atari computers. Although he no longer records on analog technologies, their impact is still readily apparent in his work, both audio and visual. The mask he wears and the music he makes reference these and other influences, which include John Carpenter, Final Fantasy and French innovators Daft Punk. Despite his self-described shy, geeky personality, Rivoire’s alter-ego and persona, Danger, is defined by his ability to energize his audience by melding big, dark soundscapes with hard, bass-heavy edges to infectious dance beats. While Danger’s sounds have been compared to his French contemporaries like Kavinsky, he has a unique style that proves his is a rising star in the global electronic scene.
Danger’s music sounds like the future but is shot through with a note of mourning for the fantasies of what he calls “Hollywood’s mythologies”—the films, tv shows, and and games of his youth. He states that he is influenced by “the ruins of blockbusters” and the sounds that have stepped in to “fill the void of cinemas.” Danger’s compositions in many ways reflect the inescapable passage of time, but they also revel in the moment. He titles his tracks after the time of day he finishes them: “11h30,” “22h39,” “1:09,” and, playfully reflecting a digital clock that has been unplugged, “88H88.”
The names of his EPs function similarly, as each represents a date after the completion of the previous album. His newest EP, July 2013, has just been released, and the music video for the first single, “1:30,” hit 50,000 views in the first week of its release. The hypnotic video, which reminded me a bit of Chris Cunningham’s visualization of Autechre’s “Second Bad Vibel” (albeit with a sleek, finished quality as opposed to the jolting grittiness of that piece), represents the creation of Danger’s iconic mask, which awakens into machine sentience at the end.
While two Previous EPs were released on Ekler’O’Shock, Danger’s newest EP, currently #6 on the iTunes Electro Charts, was released on his own label, 1789—the year of the French Revolution, and an indication of Rivoire’s own recognition that he’s pushing the bounds of electronic music. The songs would work well as the backdrop to your own science fiction horror film. Join those already in the know by adding a little bit of Danger into your summer soundtrack. July 2013 is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.