New Album Review #5: Justice – Access All Arenas [Live] (2013)
Justice seem to me like Daft Punk from a different universe. The two robots have definitely been an inspiration to them, as the similarities in musical style and stage performance are obvious. But they rather feel like two sides of a coin (like TwoFace’s coin) with Justice representing the darker, harder and more destructive half of the funky french currency; at least their first album (Cross). For their second Audio, Video, Disco they more or less abandoned their grungy, sound-mangling style and mixed Rock and Italo-Disco into an interesting and (depending on your expectation) satisfying record.
Generally, I am not the biggest fan of live album, as I get easily annoyed by the loud crowd reactions and a messed-up muddy sound. But here I wondered how they were going to mash up their older, faster and harder with the newer, slower and softer songs.
Songs & Production
Their usual opening number Genesis still sends shivers down my spine, every time that ominous fanfare starts. Despite starting out with a synthesized rendition of the beginning of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d-minor, when those horns start blaring, the crowd goes wild. And I would too. This song and the way it builds up and varies is the perfect starting point for this concert.
Almost seamless do most songs flow into each other, like they were made to do so. But the actual songs on the studio albums differ greatly from these live mixes. This makes this live album really worthwhile. Sometimes live material, especially from rock bands, are just renditions of their usual songs without changing a lot (maybe adding longer solos here and there).
I find it hard to single out songs that stand out, because there are hardly any weak spots in this record. Maybe if you prefer the way music is mixed in clubs with a steady beat always playing in the background, you might find yourself bored in the intro or interlude sections. You can definitely dance to it, even though it’s not really club music. It’s an album you can listen sitting in an armchair or rocking it out in your living room. The dramaturgy and changes between the hard and loud passages and the quieter bits is perfectly timed giving you enough time to catch your breath for the next drop. Also, this makes listening through it all in one go rather enjoyable and definitely prevents listening fatigue by not being constantly bombarded with full power.
Strangely with this, the live atmosphere doesn’t bother me that much, as the sound remains rather direct and not as muddy. This might have been a problem here, especially for the important bass frequencies, but thankfully the balance between direct sound and the live atmosphere has been chosen wisely. An example of a bad balance for me is the Led Zeppelin reunion live album, which is way, way too muddy for me. If you ever listened to a dry bootleg taken from the soundboard, you know, that you have to have a ‘feel-like-your-there’ aura for the music to work, but the proportions have to be right. Here, they are right.
The Final Judgement
A worthy addition to the Justice catalogue, that keeps on surprising you with fresh remixes, to which you can dance your feet off.