Does EDM qualify as a formal genre? It’s a controversial topic to some. However, upon listening to Teminite’s new album, Uprising, the answer rings loud and clear. Once an umbrella acronym to describe a diverse, hybrid sonic movement, EDM has matured into a genre in its own right - and U.K. artist Teminite (real name Sam Norris) has its sound pinned down.
Over its ten tracks, Uprising offers a compelling crash course in EDM’s most recognizable tricks and tropes. A skilled engineer in explosive-drop science, Teminite is clearly fond of the womps, wobbles, and shrieks that constitute dubstep’s contribution to EDM. But there’s more to Uprising than the mosh pits it’s sure to inspire.
EDM also has a soft side. Teminite reveals the genre’s tender underbelly in the Flume-inspired track “Crushin’ On You” featuring Georgia Denham, and power ballad “Standing Tall” featuring Jonah Hitchens. “A New Dawn” melds the producer’s tearout signature with a danceably catchy electro beat. Teminite’s dramatic touch for building technicolor tension is on display throughout Uprising, alongside a knack for hooks destined to stick in your head.
The album is arranged to play out through energetic peaks and valleys, but the purpose of the release is for each track to stand on its own. In the true spirit of EDM, Uprising is a collection of bangers.
Most of the tunes are upstanding anthems suited for any main stage festival set. That’s why it is disappointing that the album’s fourth track, “Party Time,” was chosen as the world’s introduction to the release. While the tune is an undeniable earworm, the contagious appeal of its high-voltage bass line is dampened by the tiresomely generic and Ke$ha-esque vocal hook, inviting listeners to “Put your hands on me and turn me on, turn me on.”
Does EDM really need more songs like “Party Time?” Such simplistic sexualization is already endlessly played out at clubs and festivals as the soundtrack (and moral subconscious) to EDM’s problem with sexism. At a time when the community is awakening to the prevalence of sexual assault at festivals and events - both in the crowd and behind the scenes - reliance on lyrical cliches that blatantly objectify women isn’t just boring. It’s a tasteless endorsement of the mindless misogyny propagated through EDM culture.
On an editorial note: It isn’t that women shouldn’t be portrayed sexually in music, but that in EDM, that is exclusively how women are portrayed. The theme is an underpinning of the gender gap among EDM performers, where women are far more underrepresented than in other segments of the industry. Through the music, female fans are sung the message that this music isn’t really for them. Such lyrics model their role at the party as on the dance floor, standing prop to a man.
Womens’ voices appear twice more on the album, in “Crushin’ On You” and “Make Me.” Twice again, they yearn for a lover’s attention.
Still, one can’t blame Teminite for the artistic choice. Sex sells, especially to the hormonal party-going audience that Uprising is made to thrill - and if EDM has one absolute mission, it is to sell.
Attempts at lyricism are overwhelmingly tacky throughout the album, but it’s not all toxic. There is redemption. Teminite’s collaboration with Chime and PsoGnar, “Monster,” is the easy highlight of the album. In a stolen moment of emotional honesty, the vocal track voices a relatable fear that’s all too real for musicians in the cutthroat music industry: “Please don’t let me become a monster.”
Vocals also play to musical purpose in “Make Me” featuring Said. Drawing from another of EDM’s familiar flairs, the song’s sweet, uplifting vocal build is contrasted by a bullishly aggressive dubstep-style drop. The effect is explosive. This tune is sure to delight headbangers on any dance floor.
Teminite shines brightest in the musical moments between contrived vocal hooks. “Rattlesnake” is standout. The gritty bass bomb is an unadulterated outburst reminiscent of big room bass forefather Figure.
The album’s most interesting instrumentation emerges in its second track. “State Of Mind” makes its musical statement in the form of a slightly confusing, but nevertheless enjoyable solo of stadium riffs. The cinematic break draws from arena rock, then from jazz and blues - but specific genre references aren’t the point here. The “solo” is held together not by continuity of style (or even of theoretical instrument) as much as its majestic, massive appeal.
These are big sounds meant for big spaces. Musically, this is what EDM is all about. Stadium superstardom is the point and pinnacle of the genre. Judging by the larger-than-life energy that defines the Uprising album, that is exactly where Teminite aims.
Uprising is available on November 16th. Stream and presave the full album here.