Club music and headphone music are two drastically different things. If you were to spend any prolonged amount in a club while completely sober you’d likely figure this out pretty quickly. Music intended to be listened to in headphones, or that is otherwise a part of an album is much more dynamic and fluid while music built for the club tends to be more driving and consistent. On face value this is all pretty obvious, and the natural conclusion is that critics will simply write off most dance focused music simply because it accomplishes its purpose too well. But what happens when a club artist attempts to strike a balance between the two?
This curious juncture is where we find Fire At Work and their latest EP Atomic Spawn. While the idea of a club group crossing over to albums and EP’s is by no means unique, it is always exciting to see if a group or producer is capable of making the leap. But before we determine whether or not Fire At Work makes the leap, it is worth considering how we look at dance producers in general. Most often we relegate them to the status of one trick ponies, good for situations but not good on the whole, I find this rather unfortunate, and it sadly pigeonholes a lot of excellent producers who do a much better job getting people on their feet than bands like Radiohead ever did, but I’m not out here trashing Radiohead, I only want us all to consider dance music for what it is, dance music.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at Atomic Spawn. Sure the record does often stick to steady, four on the floor beat that is almost hardstyle in nature, and as such it lacks a certain dynamicism. But what it lacks in dynamics it more than makes up for in sound design. Where most hardstyle is content to find a pounding drum and ride it out for three to five minutes, Fire At Work actually takes the time to play with some interesting industrial background drum beats and strange, liquid sounding synths. It may not seem like a lot, but when compared to the field it makes the group stand out as more than capable in both the world of dance and in the realm of the album. If electronic music is to your taste, this is something absolutely worth your attention, just make sure to let the beat build.