Yet, listening to 120 Days’ new album, set for March 6 release, it dawned on me how strange the circumstances are surrounding me trying to review 120 Days II: I listen to electro-dance music in broad daylight.
The Norwegian group’s beats and synths envelope me through my earbuds, while the sun pours into the coffeehouse (Alterra Lakefront, Milwaukee). Seemingly incongruous, the music paints a whole different scene than the one I can see before my eyes. “Dahle Disco,” a sprawling, nearly 10 minute affair energizes the air more than a triple-shot espresso. As the track emerges from ambient beginnings, you can imagine yourself in the middle of a film where the turning point is being set up as the main character types madly away at a laptop while sitting in the coffeehouse in the middle of a collection of calm, day-to-day patrons. It’s as if the deep bass sounds have uncovered the master plan to thwart crime and economic chaos. Our hero’s inner thoughts of tension and victory hidden from view but revealed by the soundtrack.
OK, so it’s much more likely that 120 Days II and tracks like “Osaka” are meant for 2 a.m. raves where dark rooms flash with passion, dance, strobes, sweat, and intrigue. However, I’m so far from that scene that I must only try to repurpose the music for my surroundings. So the woman walking to a table with her mocha in hand has a new energy and focus imposed on her in my music-led imagination. The couple coming in from a lakefront run looking a post-exercise coffee have hearts that keep beating fast, ready to take off at a sprint. Two women meeting over lunch are no longer just sharing a casual conversation; their words pulse with the deep beat of “SF,” words which will break their world wide open. If this was a video, this is when all of the people in the coffeehouse would start to sway and jive and float and turn this bright and sunny day into a rush of nighttime mystery and quickened pace.