Buried Treasure: Metro Area


[Today: If robots made disco…]

As Metro Area, the Brooklyn duo Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani create space age dance music that sounds like disco stripped down to its barest beats. Their influences span a number of underground groovemakers from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s, including Salsoul disco, Detroit techno, New Wave, and early hip-hop and house music. Metro Area samples vintage music, but instead of swiping large passages of beats, they select a single drumbeat and then rebuild a new song out of it. This is truly disco re-imagined. As Geist told the New York Times in 2002, ”We consider ourselves to be making dubs of old tracks that never really existed.”

One of disco’s structural weak points was its tendency towards overproduction. Not just syrupy strings, but lots of them. Not just a single flute, but an entire orchestra. Mainstream disco’s pile-it-on approach to production finally led to the backlash that turned the genre back underground. Metro Area peels all of those elements away, leaving just the DNA grooves of a really good night at Studio 54. Sure, the strings and flutes and back up singers are still in the mix, but they’re used in such delicate moderation that they actually enhance the beats, rather than drown them out.

Metro Area’s self-titled 2002 debut sounds less like the by-product of King Tubby and Lee Perry disciples than the work of futuristic beat robots. It lacks the herky jerky rhythms and spacey vibe of true dub music, even if it follows dub’s down-to-the-chassis ethos. Instead, this is fluid, sleek music that locks in on business-making beats and just goes. I’ve heard that in the distant future there will only be two kinds of dances – the robot and the robo-boogie. Metro Area makes music that is ideal for both…

Listen: Dance Reaction

Listen: Atmosphrique

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