Steve Aoki’s new EP 5OKI dropped April 27. I’m only getting to it now because I’m pretty clueless about EDM.
If my look-back at the Jets last week didn’t convict me as being too old to talk about current music, this confession probably will: I don’t get electronic dance music. It pains me to say it, too, because I taught high-schoolers for sixteen years, and could usually find some musical connection with my students, some common ground on which we could establish good, casual communication. Even if I didn’t like what they liked, I got it well enough to talk about it with them. I remember what it was like to be fifteen and to be obsessed with the music in my Walkman earbuds.
I don’t dislike most of the EDM I’ve listened to. As a tech-head (and tech teacher), the computer aspects of the music’s creation intrigue me, but beyond cool beats and interesting mixes, I don’t find much to latch onto. Which is weird because I once listened to a lengthy radio interview with Aoki on a sports talk radio show and he was engaging and funny and fascinating.
I’ve spun 5OKI seven times and I like it. I can even identify each track by its opening beats without looking at the tracklist. The opening track, “Anthem,” sounds like the music they play when they introduce the starting lineups at NBA games: “Aaaaaaaaand now, yooooooooooooooour Miami Heeeeeeeeeeeeat!” There’s a nice little bit of dubstep wobble in this track too.
“It’s Time” has a similar feel; it even has voice samples (or vocal tracks; I can’t tell!) clearly meant to mimic the hype music before a boxing match or basketball game.
“Pika Pika” is my favorite because it has interesting sounds I don’t often hear in dance music, including something sounding like bamboo being hit with other bamboo, then run through a couple of effects. It also has a moment where the groove reminds me of 80s Genesis (the band).
I’m utterly unequipped to give this any kind of rating, but I like it even if I don’t think I get it. Check out the “Pika Pika” video here and let me know what you think.