In this in-depth opinion piece, Alton San Giovanni gives us an artist-eye-view of Justice’s latest single, which he argues shows the Parisian duo at their most vulnerable.
Justice Prove That They Truly Are Safe and Sound
Alton San Giovanni // Niteppl
After a five-year post-‘Audio Video Disco/Access All Arenas’ development period Justice have emerged this week with ‘Safe and Sound’; an almost six-minute space disco-tinged return to form for the Parisian duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. The single is a rainbow coloured galactic journey through our brave new world, and shows us the duo in a place never before seen by the public: insecurity.
Beginning with a deep, falling synth-pad stabs reminiscent of the scoring work of John Carpenter and more recently Disaster-Peace and Cliff Martinez, the single suddenly blossoms into a children’s choir that expels the first lyrics: “Man Up, Hold Tight, Driving Dark”. With these first lyrics Justice has welcomed you into their new album, a new project, their new sound. As a listener you are driving dark into the vacuum of what the artists have created, and they implore you to hold on to something and man up, as this journey may not be what you expect. Justice is willing the single, and new album, out of the nothing; as if the children’s choir has erupted from a void to give life-its-self to music.
“The narrative is effortless and can pass by you quickly if you aren’t careful.”
Justice are no strangers to the use of such tactics; indeed, this light in the dark style in composition has been utilised by the duo in opening tracks such as ‘Genesis’ from their 2007 effort ‘Cross’, as well as ‘Planisphere’; however here the lyrics seem to paint a much more narrative driven picture than previously utilised by Gaspard and Xavier. The next lyric appears, glimmering out of the primordial ooze: “Head Up, Foot Down, Speed of Sound”. This second statement compliments the first; in my ears it implores the listener to pay attention to the disco-landscape appearing before them piece by piece at the speed of sound hitting the eardrums. Justice are equating the concept of speed of sound travel with the speed of sound flooding to the listener’s mind; again the narrative is effortless and can pass by you quickly if you aren’t careful.
“Time’s Up, Kick Start, Keep on Track,” here Justice are joking with the listener, referring to Kickstarter campaigns and the way in which art is funded and created in our modern tech-driven world. Again Justice are experimenting with a much more narrative driven set of lyrics that paint a gleaming, chrome covered portrait of not only what they’ve been up to in silence for the past five years, but also what the world has been up to on a whole. With this song Justice are attempting to create a universality to their music. Then out of nowhere we get a change in the deep, rumbling synth-pads and the lyrics finish their intention: “Flags Out, Sit Back, Safe and Sound”. Justice want you to throw away the past, throw away your ideas of what you think their music is, sit back, and know that you’re safe and sound with them.
“It’s impossible, for me at least, to listen to this work out of context with the November 13th shootings in Paris.”
There is a certain political, humanistic perspective being explored with this opening stanza of lyrics. It’s impossible, for me at least, to listen to this work out of context with the November 13th shootings in Paris, the lyric “Safe and Sound” for me attempts to create a nurturing shell for the listener to inhabit, away from all the politics, strife, fear, and pain of our world. Justice have always been escapists: their music exists in a self-created vacuum of time and influence that begs to be picked apart and explored. For this writer that very element of exploration is what’s kept me coming back to Justice year-after-year. In this new world Justice have taken elements of their original 2007 work, 2011’s ‘Audio Video Disco’, and merged them with something new; something galactic, yet also extremely human. And for the first time I think we are seeing Gaspard and Xavier at their most vulnerable. Gone are the days of bombastic and confident dance-floor smashers, the prog-rock infused arena rock. This Justice has grown up, much like we have grown up with them, and I can’t wait to hear what’s next.