Lemaitre is a flash of fresh air in an increasingly claustrophobic world of electronic music. The duo consists of Ketil Jansen and Ulrik Denizou Lund, who met at a party and realized that they shared the same penchant for disco-infused guitar licks and jaunty keyboard riffs. Originally hailing from Oslo Norway, Lund and Jansen have been residents of Los Angeles for the past two years, where they have been constantly working on music at their home studio in Silverlake, the household address of which inspired the title of their new EP, 1749.
When we last saw Lemaitre making buzzworthy waves it was during their opening stint for labelmate Porter Robinson’s 2014 tour. The duo collaborated with the well-known producer for the track “Polygon Dust” off of his latest album Worlds, and at the time it seemed like Lemaitre were finally poised to rocket off into the mainstream. That didn’t exactly happen, but with a spot on the latest Coachella poster and their new EP on it’s way later this month via Astralwerks, 2016 could finally be the year they grab hold of the recognition their music has justified since more than half a decade ago.
The new EP features a number of collaborations, including one with local electronic hero and former UC Berkeley student Giraffage, who Lemaitre shared the road with during the Porter Robinson shows. Ever since that tour the two artists have been trying to find time to collaborate, and things finally came together on this EP in the form of Nishio 2. Jennie A. appears for a breakthrough feature on lead single “Closer,” which is noteworthy for its heavy horn drops juxtaposed with twinkling piano.
1749 is EP #7 for the duo, who have been working on their first full-length for a while now but are taking their time to ensure its quality. Lately, however, it seems like the release of an inevitable full-length is not so certain. As Lund puts it, “Since everything has moved over to streaming and Spotify now, it seems like it becomes less and less important to release an album. We never released an album before because we wanted to have songs out more frequently and it’s much easier to finish a body of work on four/five songs instead of ten-plus without going crazy and losing sight of what’s good or not.”
Regardless of the length of their next project, odds are it will be of considerable quality. There is not a dud in the group’s collection. “Splitting Colors” from Relativity 2 channels the sensibilities of Justice and Daft Punk into an absolutely essential offering of electro-pop. Relativity 3 features Lund’s vocals at their most sailing over four absolutely perfect dance tracks. “High Tide” off of their 2014 EP Singularity may be the band’s best song to date — with swelling synths fleshing out a rich resonant soundscape.
The incredible new art design for the release of 1749 comes courtesy of painter and graphic designer Milo Hartnoll, a friend of Lemaitre’s longtime collaborator Johannes Greve Muskat (affectionately known as Jo) who has worked on all the band’s videos in the past. Beyond their visuals, the band has been ramping up their live production in anticipation of their new tour and appearance at Coachella, the first major US festival the band has played beyond a slot at Electric Zoo last year.
Prior to playing in the desert, the duo is hitting a limited number of US cities to perform songs off their new EP. Opening those performances, which include a date at San Francisco’s Social Hall, is starRo, a producer Jansen and Lund played a show with at the Roxy in LA. A budding friendship resulted in a new remix of “Closer,” as well as an invitation to be on the bill for the band’s upcoming shows. “We are both fans of each other, so when he was available to do those shows we definitely wanted to have him,” said Lund.
I’ve seen Lemaitre twice now — once performing as solely a duo, the other with a more fleshed out band — and what surprised me both times is how well the band replicates their studio dynamics in person. Unlike a number of other electronic performances I’ve been to, Lemaitre are never overbearing. Their music lifts you up rather than weighs you down, as their astute sense of melody pleasantly pulses from the speakers. Their show at Social Hall next week is one of only two California dates before festival season kicks off in April; don’t miss the opportunity to see Lemaitre during what feels like their breakthrough moment.
January 29, 2016
$16 (All Ages)