I only engaged in two types of dancing growing up:
- The silly stuff you do at home with your family when enjoying a favorite record; and
- Worshiping Jesus at church along with gospel music.
The first kind was obviously nothing structured, but flowed from that naive freedom you feel as a small kid because you’re oblivious to the concept people are judging EVERYTHING YOU DO AT ALL TIMES.
With the second, you weren’t supposed to be thinking about how everyone might be watching. Instead, all of your attention should be focused on Jesus, and, while you certainly shouldn’t dance in any sort of sexual way in church, you also shouldn’t worry about how you look while dancing for Jesus.
Long story short, I didn’t know how to dance, and dancing outside of the context of worshiping Jesus was expressly forbidden in the Christian denomination of which I was a member. It was basically a sin. After all, any dancing not for Jesus meant you were listening to non-Christian music and doing non-Christian things like having an active adolescent libido. If you found yourself interested in engaging in such activities, it meant that you were a backsliding sinner who would find yourself in Hell, if you weren’t careful.
Such a wonderful, positive, and uplifting environment, full of healthy messages about your body and how you interacted with the world.
However, I knew my mother used to dance in clubs all the time before she got saved, and I loved listening to good music with a strong beat. Thanks to listening to such groove-driven black gospel music in church and becoming a musician, I developed a strong sense of rhythm. Even after I left the church in 2004 and dove headlong into all manner of dance, pop, and electronic music over the past decade, I’ve never fully escaped the self-conscious guilt over dancing hammered into me during my teenaged and early post-college years.
So, what does all that autobiographical exposition have to do with the new 12” from xxxy?
More than you’d think. Not only does A Fleeting Moment serve as a stellar introduction into this producer’s aesthetic, but it sounds like the sort of music my Mom probably danced to over 40 years ago updated for contemporary club goers. Over the course of 3 tracks and 15 minutes, xxxy combines ‘70s disco, ‘90s house, and ‘10s electro to achieve superb music that’s all about the dance floor (and little else).
The title track and A-side flirt, swing, and sway with vivacious energy. Even with the bright snare snaps and a strong 4/4 bass line, the clean guitar licks are the highlight of this tune. Imagine a vintage Chic tune but with Moby-esque house atmosphere and drum patterns. There’s a potency to this tune that’s familiar if a bit predictable. But it’s simply fun and the rhythm keeps you on the dance floor as the smoke swirls around you.
With a flip of the record, “Takin the Easy Way Out” enters your ears with a tropical flare. Thanks to the meshing of bells, bass grooves, and rippling high-hat, you find yourself caught up by the ever-so-slight increase in tempo. As the string samples swirl around you, snippets of ‘70s disco vocals vie for your attention. Even as they encourage you to give into the spirit of the music.
In the end, it’s the house-meets-funk arrangement that holds your attention and leaves you wanting more.
Which you thankfully receive when “Get On It” arrives! Despite being firmly planted in disco and deep house, xxxy update the ideas with glistening synths and crisper production. As the most uptempo and forward-thinking tune on the project, it features a strong keyboard melody and top-notch drum syncopation that never becomes too hackneyed or idiosyncratic.
These quirky rhythms that never let you get completely settled. Even as they provide everything you need to keep your body moving.
In an alternate timeline, I wouldn’t have been afraid to frequent dance clubs while in college. I would have channeled my love for driving beats into work as a music producer. This means that A Fleeting Moment would be a staple of the DJ sets I play throughout 2018. The music is fun, grooves are tight, tempos upbeat, and production is crystal-clear. Making it perfect for vinyl nights and working into my live mix via Serrato.
In the real timeline, I’m more than content playing this record at home for my 3-year-old daughter. I may never feel comfortable dancing in a club to the music I like. BUT I do love dancing around the living room with my kid. She likes handing out one of her percussion toys to us parents so we can engage in an impromptu family jam session. While that might not be how xxxy envisioned people enjoying this fantastic 12”, but it definitely works for me!
Despite all of the cliches you might have heard about the place, Adam P. Newton actually enjoys living in Texas – most of the time. He currently creates and curates content for a marketing agency, and in his limited free time, he writes a memoir about his journey through music called “Explaining Grownup Music to Kids.”