THE COUNT AND SINDEN

 
 

Some might say The Count & Sinden's approach to making dance music is a little like spinning plates. Every sound imaginable is fed into their visceral mix and the result is an honest and unique reflection of their influences: house, techno, dancehall, hip hop, electro, ragga, garage, afrobeat, booty bass, Latin funk and baile, and the unfettered joy of rave. But then what did you expect from two Essex chaps who have set out to see dance music through new eyes. This fresh way of approaching dance music - from their choice of collaborators (no A-list stars phoning in their vocals here) to the collage effect of their celebratory sound - has culminated in their debut, the aptly titled clarion call that is Mega Mega Mega.

With Mega Mega Mega, The Count & Sinden have fired the opening salvo in the skirmish to soundtrack this brave new world. This adventurous duo have not so much disregarded dance music's increasingly linear and sterile conventions (laid down years ago by blokes who are now in their 40s and possess a spectacular array of facial hair), as written a new chapter in the history of forward-thinking, electronic dance music.

And this sound, as anyone who's heard their array of 12-inch battle weapons will attest, takes no prisoners. It's unapologetically wild, hedonistic and playful. It reflects the attitude of multicultural Britain, a positivity we should never forget. But then, as the duo, The Count (aka The Count Of Monte Cristal, aka HervÈ, aka Speakerjunk, aka The Things, but just plain old Joshua Harvey to his Mum and Dad) & Sinden (Graeme Sinden), make perfectly clear, this is their preferred model of working.


"The best British music has always been defined by taking music from everywhere and incorporating it into something new," says Sinden. "It goes back to the Rolling Stones," agrees The Count. "The xx is a good modern example of that, the way they've been influenced by underground garage and not just the Velvet Underground and Brian Eno." "I love those weird references," Sinden states. "It's where the interesting things happen, like Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa mixing up Kraftwerk and Led Zeppelin to come up with hip hop."

Mega Mega Mega is one of these interesting things. A composite of everything the boys have devoured and absorbed by osmosis. A sound that is innovative and experimental as much as it is about throwing your hands in the air and worshipping the Gods of rave. It's a record that doesn't fall easily into any genre, mainly because no-one has yet invented the genre that would fit this amorphous and free-floating sound. The Count argues: "The worst thing you can do as an artist is make a genre record within a genre that you didn't start. We have made an album that sums up everything that we've done and more." This vibrancy, this devil-may-care attitude is not only central to Mega Mega Mega, but it characterises The Count & Sinden's relationship full stop.

Introduced by mutual friend Dave 'Switch' Taylor, the pair immediately bonded over music, film and a shared world view. The Count was immediately struck by Sinden's complete lack of reverence for how 'dance music should be done'. "I was sick of what was going on - you have to remember this was when we were all under the rule of tedious deep house - and Graeme just didn't come from that background (Sinden's past is rooted in the cut and paste aesthetic favoured by hip hop). He was bolshy and I loved that sense of disregard, the idea that we could take mad risks. What were we going to do? Get embarrassed because the house mafia said it wasn't on? We actively wanted to offend those people." The results were instant. 'Beeper', an exuberant and instinctive homage to garage went supernova and The Count & Sinden knew they were onto something. Although the usual dance labels wanted to get on board when the pair decided to take their iconoclastic sound into album territory, they decided to sign with indie legends Domino, the home of Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand et al. They are one of the rare 'dance' acts on the label. Buoyed by such an honour, The Count & Sinden's first album is a fitting release. As the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and Basement Jaxx did before them, the pair not only reflect their mixed-up times, they've thrown down the gauntlet to the dance fraternity. From its evocative title to the 12 tracks that comprise the album, Mega Mega Mega is dynamic and unforgettable.

The opening track, 'Do You Really Want It', featuring the breathtaking rapping skills of Trackademicks, is a suitable call to arms - all twitching synths and alien throbs. 'Hardcore Girls' is disco pogo for punks in pumps, the hypnotic 'Desert Rhythm' betrays its carnivalesque roots, while 'After Dark', featuring indie mavericks the Mystery Jets, is an anthem in the making. Elsewhere, there's acid house rewired for the 21st Century ('Elephant'), a ragga punk love story ('Hold Me', featuring hot young British talent - Katy B), monumental synapse shattering explosions ('Mega'), an Ibiza twist ('Addicted To You', with the unmistakeable vocals of Bashy) and cosmic bliss (the beautiful closer, 'You Make Me Feel So Good').

These collaborations also give a telling indication as to The Count & Sinden's mindset. Instead of recognisable stars, the pair has recruited what can be deemed kindred spirits to the cause. So whether friends and neighbours (Mystery Jets), fellow travellers (Rye Rye) or emerging UK talent (Katy B, Bashy), the consequence is a refreshingly honest and direct record. And being humorous sorts, the duo has come up with a pithy description for this panoply of sounds and colleagues. "It's world music from Essex," they proudly suggest. "Everything is in there," admits Sinden, "but it's all twisted. There's an indie band but it sounds like Nigerian folk disco. We couldn't do it any other way." And, being from Essex, it's unsurprising to hear them applaud the uncomplicated Proustian rush of rave. Some may use the term as a diss, but to The Count & Sinden, rave goes beyond white gloves, klaxons and whistles. To them it's a spirit that infects all the best music and parties. In short, the essence of Mega Mega Mega.

It's a spirit that was forged at their parties of the same name - a spirit that takes in the collaborative approach of the album. Those lucky enough to have experienced one of their Mega Mega Mega nights will recognise how all the dots are joined between their music and the records they spin and the guests who played (Skream, Fake Blood, Jack Beats). To The Count & Sinden though, it's just a big party. "We love it," enthuses The Count. "To me it's that old Roman thing: get pissed and eat lots of food, then throw up so you can do it all over again. It's a ritual, that's rave. I see it as a positive thing. It doesn't matter if it's 50,000 in a stadium or 50 people in the back of a pub. As long as there's a DJ and people dancing, it's a rave."

So there you have it: Mega Mega Mega has landed.

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FILES BY THE COUNT AND SINDEN