Given the immediacy of our internet-driven culture, it’s quite surprising when an act relies so heavily on painstaking patience. But that’s just the focus of Brooklyn house duo Zach Steinman and Sam Haar — known collectively as Blondes — whose bouncy blend of dance music is both stubborn and restless, thumping along at a moderate pace as the producers heap layers of deep bass and reverb onto the pile. Visually, their website tells the same story: two Vimeo boxes rest against an all-black background, the one on the left showing ambient flashes as the video for “Hater” slowly unfolds. The other video flickers, rapidly depicting the facial movements of an unknown woman as “Lover” plays. It’s clear Steinman and Haar have plenty of time on their hands, and they assume you do, too.
On their 2010 EP, Touched, Blondes seemed focused on long lead-ins and tribal medleys, both of which worked well as a digestible mixture of retro-futuristic techno. For instance, the 1980s-inspired “Moondance” was an exercise in endurance: the glossy, electric drums that dissolved into an abrasive concoction of noise, and the random inclusion of divergent sounds. But while Touched served as a precursor to Blondes’ full-length album, it felt more cerebral and dissectible; not focused so much on hypnotic harmonies suited for the local rave. Instead, Blondes’ self-titled full-length debut is more streamlined than their previous work, a decent instrumental collection of menacing percussion for EDM connoisseurs.
What’s most interesting about Blondes is its “jam” concept, as Steinman and Haar use computer software to layer their music. Every song throughout Blondes begins with one sound and the musicians build on top of it. “Water,” for example, begins with quiet echoes and swells to trance-like proportions, complete with haunting wails and high-pitched squeaks. “Pleasure” begins with low, restless synths and brightens to a breezy, atmospheric jam.
Overall, while Blondes’ debut album isn’t quite as dynamic as the EP, it still serves its purpose as a notable standout from the upstart duo. This is headphone music, best consumed when the listener has time to peel the onion and examine the artistic approach. Patience is a virtue.