It is rare to find a Renaissance man/woman in this day and age. Back when people were still chucking buckets of poop out the window, there were folks who were so done with the Dark Ages that they ditched that scene and went to art schools in Europe where they did everything: painted, sculpted, made music, philosophized, had all sorts of steamy sex-as-art one night stands. They took the scene by storm, competing to see how far they could go to shock with their fresh takes on culture. You didn’t fuck with these people, and you do not fuck with Danger.
Franck Rivoire, as Danger’s mortal form is known, is an artist in the tradition of those Florentine hipsters of old. His Myspace page brings you into the world he created around his stage persona: solid black pyramids amongst a steamy jungle flash in the background while swirls of color surround the jagged font spelling his name. The site’s animations betray his influences and inspirations: short clips of a bleeding protagonist running from a pitch-black, headlight-eyes phantom bring back images of Power Rangers and kitschy ’80s horror films alike, and a teaser for his new EP is rendered in glorious 16-bit graphics, paying homage to the intro of the classic arcade game Final Fight. The man doesn’t hide or repress his cultural fetishes in his art. Rather, he brings them to the forefront, practically drowns in them.
All this can also be said of his eerie and abrasive dance tunes. He has drawn countless comparisons to fellow electro-scenesters Justice and, to a lesser degree, the techno-pop juggernaut Daft Punk. But with one hand firmly on his collection of self-recorded VHS tapes and the other on the mixboard, Danger has done something unorthodox by injecting as much atmosphere, foreboding, and thematic style into the ubiquitous four-four beat as he possibly can. Synths wail, Gameboys bloop, marimbas jingle—shit, he’s even got those Peruvian pan flutes that infested Hollywood drama for years. Sure, these stereotypes—arcade game commands, sounds of movies past, even flourishes of 8-bit chiptunes—are from an era that most of us between the ages of 20 and 30 already know and love or loathe, but they’re digitally nipped and tucked until they’re suddenly new again, relatable once more, and damn if they don’t all just make you want to dance.
But wait: his dedication to all-or-nothing art goes further. First of all, his releases belong to a larger concept, with dates for titles and times of day for track names, the albums supposedly following the travels of Rivoire’s nameless and skinny-jeaned protagonist and his mysterious, wide-eyed assailant. Secondly, he’s planning to use his tunes as a soundtrack to an animated movie based around the same storyline. In the aforementioned teaser clip, a block of text scrolls down ominously halfway through: “On the third night, the first would die so the second would be freed...” followed by an image of the phantom, leather jacket on, menaced by thugs in a back alley. So far, it’s something like a video game translation of the films he grew up with, an ode to a decade some consider lost to art.
Each one of his three EPs—titled 9/14 2007, 9/16 2007, and 9/17 2007—is not only excellent, but unique. On his first release, easily his most stripped-down and accessible, Danger opens up with a ripper, “11h30,” and never stops, his synths going from soaking-wet to boiling in the span of seconds, the production quality clear and admirable for a first release. Another track, the punch-drunk “14h54,” became a favorite at his live shows, causing floors to buckle as concert-goers bounced and raved in unison to the wobbling, bass-choked main verse.
With the second release, 9/16 2007, he makes an about face, slowing and shrouding his sound until it churns like Massive Attack from outer space, bringing in elements of classical music, jazzy percussion, heavy metal guitars, and even a rap from Vyle on one of his tracks. Still, the concept is there and arguably stronger than before, with even the guest remixes fitting in with the idea that this was all to be a soundtrack to one twisted trip of an animated ’80s horror flick. The cover art shows a bloodied Rivoire with crumbling castles and jungle behind, fog all around, an exacto-knife in hand. The music, darker than before, broods with him.
Here we are, then, with a new Danger EP upon us. I was skeptical as to whether he could take his decidedly time-locked style of electronica any further, but just two minutes into opener “4h30,” he did. There’s this moment where the sound that has been slowly building simply drops away, replaced by a blast of what sounds like a full orchestra dripping through electric gel, as if to say “Guess who’s back, and look what I can do now.” Then, seconds later, the first beat comes back as a zombified Nintendo tune, quiet before exploding to greater heights, and Danger is just laughing at the wheel, driving at night and yelling out, “Dance, motherfuckers, dance.”
And 9/17 2007 does have drive. More than his other music, this collection seems based on consistent beats with a tinge of harsh metallic noises behind, as the shining city on the cover suggests. Organic sighs and digital fog are replaced by the crunch of clunky zippers, the shake of spray-paint, and jagged shouts of “Go!” by arcade machines. It’s like being ten in Tokyo, on acid. It seems to have staying power, too—on each listen there’s something new, another menacing gurgle behind the main beat or a jingle in the percussion that you never noticed before. This is dance music that rewards the attentive fan.
Unfortunately, the EP loses steam with two guest remixes at the end, both based on the previously-mentioned track “4h30,” but that just goes to show nobody does dance quite like Danger. While far from perfect, the feisty Frenchman makes up for his EP’s shortcomings in sheer ambition, and he has the potential to connect with a larger audience than most electronic artists thanks to his retooling of familiar sounds from the decade most of us were born in or suffered through. Whether you’re a hard rocker, a headphone-nirvana type, a clubber, or just looking for new sounds, Danger is one hell of a good time thanks to his trendy, dirty, but ultimately ravetastic music.