Formerly the sole preserve of aging rockers, the supergroup has recently become a staple of dance music culture following the colossal success of the now-defunct Swedish House Mafia. Following in the footsteps of the Barbra Streisand-referencing Duck Sauce (Armand Van Helden, A-Trak), dubstep pioneers Magnetic Man (Benga, Skream, Artwork) and superstar DJs Afroki (Steve Aoki, Afrojack), Dutch electronic trio Noisia and British hip-hop quartet Foreign Beggars are the latest to get in on the act with their self-titled debut album under the name I Am Legion.
The results of a five-year-long collaborative process, the album’s sixteen tracks may be swamped in the same kind of grinding bass-lines, industrial beats and nightmarish synths as EDM’s kings of bombast. But Noisia’s inventive production skills ensure that I Am Legion isn’t always the generic affair you might expect.
Admittedly, the likes of “Powerplay,” a shouty and aggressive slice of bro-step, and the lurching wall of noise that is “Stresses, Part I” sound like they have been pieced together from leftovers on Skrillex’s studio floor. The shoehorned in burst of trap music on “Choosing For You” suggests that both parties are unaware that the “Harlem Shake” meme is about six months past its sell-by-date.
But for the most part, the Dutchmen give their new allies’ playful, if often abrasive, lyrical flow room to breathe, whether it’s through the minimal Timbaland-esque beats of the Breaking Bad-referencing “Warp Speed Thuggin,” the sci-fi-tinged grimy electro of “Ice” or the ghostly hip-pop of closer “Foil.” Meanwhile, the space invader synths and The Prodigy-esque rave breakdown on “Make Those Move” and the menacing drum ‘n’ bass of “Dust Descends” prove that I Am Legion can tackle more speaker-blasting fare without pandering to the lowest common denominator.
I Am Legion, therefore, might not always live up to the “supergroup” tag, but it’s a much more intriguing experiment than many of their fellow “dream teams” have managed so far.