Danger - 太鼓 (Taiko)
Danger, a.k.a. Franck Rivoire, the elusive black mage of synthwave, is back in a big fashion – leaping from the shadows and straight into the spotlight with his first full-length album, “Taiko.”
Rumors of his first LP have tumbled through the mill for years now, way back since 2011. Danger has often referred to his dislike of the album format – choosing instead to release his work as separate EPs – so much so that it came as a great surprise to many of his followers when he announced his first full LP would be released.
“太鼓,” better known to English speakers as “Taiko,” has been well worth the wait.
His production career began a decade ago in 2007, when he debuted the earth shattering “09/14/2007.” Along with the odd album titles came even more esoteric track titles, such as 14h54 and 11h30. These titles referred to the time which he completed the track and, in part, helped to relegate him to the underground where he quickly established a devout cult following.
Being 10 years since those first signs of Danger flitted across the net, much has changed. In those days, when Myspace was still king, Danger released his first tracks through his music page which strobed wildly with a seizing intent – an homage to the episode of Pokemon which caused seizures in children across Japan.
But times have changed - and so has Danger.
Just as his website background no longer strobes a seizure inducing mix of colour, his music no longer simply consists of evil, chiptune-influenced club banger 4 track eps.
Although some fans may be disappointed by this evolution, the result is nothing short of legendary. “Taiko” is a cinematic masterpiece laden with peaks and valleys, crescendos, climaxes – and a large range of influences. This work is more personal, more mature than his earlier releases and the production has a much fuller, more orchestral sound.
The album’s title kanjis “太鼓” or “Taiko,” are a reference to enormous drums that have been used in Japan since the feudal ages. It was used in war to guide troops, but also in religious ceremonies such as baptisms. Danger has been a fan of anime and comic books since his childhood – hence the dark mage mask and persona - and as such, Taiko is a fitting name for the album, representing a new beginning in Danger’s production, a baptism of thunderous sound.
And so his album begins – with a loud brassy bass reminiscent of Inception. The album builds slowly and in a somewhat melancholic fashion, with the first four tracks echoing a nostalgic eastern influence united perfectly with western electronica. These opening tracks are often interrupted by an abrasive static stab which creates anxiety as well, until the first peak of the album at “22:41.”
After this we hear a general increase in tempo as well as the use of cloudrap/trillwave beats and hats that work oddly well in the face of being mixed with dark, nostalgic synth music. For a time the album returns to another long build, though this time more synth influenced, until it peaks again with “21:10,” the true climax of the album and simply one of the best tracks I’ve heard all year. The album finishes peaking after the following cut, “19:19,” and the last two tracks act as a resolution and perhaps an epilogue - leaving listeners on a lighter mysterious note, wondering what will come next.
All in all, “Taiko” is fantastic, if a bit misplaced. Being a self-described perfectionist, Danger took a long while to release this album, which may have been better suited to 2-3 years ago when the trap phenomenon was taking off, not dying out. His earlier fans would have no doubt liked to hear more intensity as well, but Danger is definitely not one for simple fan service.
Regardless, the gleaming, perfect production in this LP and the sheer volume of character it holds will help it stand out of time.
Top tracks: “21:10,” “0:59,” “6:42,” and “11:03”
Note: there is a track on the album, “19:00 (feat. Tasha The Amazon)” that was not uploaded to Danger’s album mix on youtube – though it is available elsewhere on the tubes.