English electronic duo Paranoid London can only be described as the rock ‘n’ roll spectrum of acid house. When they exploded into the underground in 2007, the UK dance scene was engulfed in haunting, a cultural moment where retro aesthetics of music and fashion were recycled to imagine alternate timelines. An iteration of this was dubstep (not to be confused with the brostep of Skrillex et al). In the early days of dubstep, artists combined low-pitched sounds with emotive beats and sounds that evoked nostalgia and nostalgia: falling rain, video game noises, rambling breakbeats.
If dubstep is the best-known example of a genre of 2000s dance music referencing eras that never existed, then Paranoid London might be the best example of a band doing the same. Their music seems to imagine an alternate history where acid house evolved not in Chicago in the 1980s but rather in the British underground punk scene of the 2000s. On their early recordings they combined the characteristic equipment of the acid house – Roland TR-808 drum machines and TB-303 bass synths – with a DIY punk approach to recording that was cheap, sloppy and utilitarian. Paired with sparse, monotonous vocals that spoke of postmodern angst, the punchy brutality of their music landed fresh. From 2007, Paranoid London’s singles circulated on the European dance scene without the support of social media or Soundcloud. Then they surprisingly released their debut album, a self-titled digital-only release, in 2014. The duo lacked the name recognition of someone like, say, Beyonce (who started the “great musicians make music” trend). surprise outings” in 2014). 2013), but paranoid london electrified European nightlife. The duo’s sets often build slowly, merging rhythms with speech in a way that seems jaded until it’s no longer, suddenly reaching a wonderful crescendo of room-shattering excitement. Their appearance at the Smart Bar should be a bridge between Chicago’s acid house past and what increasingly resembles its dystopian punk future.
paranoid london, Justin Aulis Long, Sassmouth, Fri. 6/3, 10 p.m., Smart bar3730 N. Clark, $20, $15 in advance, $25 after midnight, 21 and over