“So you think electronic music is boring? You think it’s stupid? You think it’s repetitive?” – the opening gambit to Clean Bandit’s breakthrough single, “Mozart’s House,” couldn’t have made the British oddball quartet’s intentions to smash all the conventions of the genre any clearer.
Underpinned by a sample of Wolfgang Amadeus’ Quartet No.21, the aptly-titled blend of sweeping strings and chopped & screwed house not only brought the worlds of classical and dance together in the most effective manner since William Orbit’s “Barber’s Adagio For Strings,” but its UK Top 20 success also proved that a certain section of the mainstream is willing to subscribe to their manifesto.
Formed at the University of Cambridge by Jesus College graduates Jack Patterson (bass), his younger brother Luke (drums), Milan Neil Amin-Smith and Grace Chatto (strings), Clean Bandit could certainly put a case forward for being dance music’s most super-smart outfit, having amassed seven degrees between them in subjects as diverse as Russian and architecture.
Transferring this intelligence and well-rounded grasp of the arts to their love of dance culture, the group first began performing their self-described brand of “classico-electronical” at the National Rail Disco night they founded during their studies. They began to attract wider attention when they set up their own cleanfilm.co production company to create their own promos.
Featuring a Japanese youth orchestra playing both violins and handheld game consoles, the string-soaked electro of “Telephone Banking” was then followed by supermodel Lily Cole as a mermaid on the 8-bit dancehall of “UK Shanty” and a giant golden snake slithering across the London landscape on the steel drum-led deep house of “A+E.”
Filmed on the streets of Moscow, the stop-motion video for their breakthrough single, “Mozart’s House,” soon racked up over a million views on YouTube. Meanwhile, the Amish-go-skating treatment of the recently unveiled “Dust Clears,” a typically clever mix of disjointed garage beats, baroque pop and early Calvin Harris-esque electro, proves that Clean Bandit’s multi-media approach is still firing on all cylinders. But even without their striking visual flair, their unique sound still remains one of the most innovative of 2013.