AceMoMA: A New Dawn
Written by Admin on March 2, 2020
The ’90s was a particularly fecund time on New York City dancefloors. The heyday of Todd Terry, Masters at Work, and imprints like Strictly Rhythm was a fount of ecstatic, pounding, and brazenly sample-heavy tracks. New NYC producers AceMo and MoMA Ready (Adrian Mojica and Wyatt Stevens, respectively) are actively inspired by that era of dance music, even thought they’re cognizant of working at a distance from it. “There’s been nobody to pass the torch to us since the mid-’90s,” Stevens recently told the zine Love Injection. “There’s a ginormous age gap between the last generation of Black and Latin music producers and the current generation.” But they have been so prolific, it’s as though they are intent upon filling the gap all by themselves. Since the beginning of 2019, the two have put out some 15 releases between them (not counting loosies like this bananas beatdown of an R&B classic).
After a house- and jungle-heavy EP last year, A New Dawn is AceMoMA’s first proper collaborative full-length. As on so much of their recent output, they work assuredly fast —even ludicrously so—as they fidget between house, acid, rave, breakcore, techno, and ’90s hip-hop. Beats gleefully push into the red and samples ride roughshod over programmed drums . But their confidence never wavers, and as raw as the 12-track set can get, every imperfect element sounds perfect. The bell-laced “The Elder Trance” contains both woozy ambient, destabilized by echo and delay, and whiplash-fast jungle, toggling between neutral and overdrive at a second’s notice.
“Rubber Band Man” is dramatic and dark, full of skin-prickling minor-key tones and claustrophobic atmosphere, with each menacing, blown-out kick and too-close woodblock clop making it feel like the walls are closing in on an unlit corridor. “Amen 2 Swing” sounds like a shout-out to the revered duo Mood II Swing: The first half is furious, coarsely chopping hi-hats and breakbeats; then they introduce a cartoonish rave keyboard line and knock the two elements together, making for a drunken anthem. “Disrupt the System” tops 144 BPM and still the two producers decide that’s not hectic enough, pouring all manner of alarm tones, claps, and laser effects into the slivers of space between the beats. Only the eponymous (and hilariously cheesy) vocal sample of “Start the Riot” and the repetitive, cut-to-ribbons chorus of “Breathe In” fail to make much of an impact.
The title track has all the makings of a 3 a.m. anthem (preferably at their unofficial home, Bossa Nova Civic Club). Gloriously fast and careening nearly out of control, it feels at once familiar and totally fresh. When the walloping kick bursts back in after an anxious, tingling build, it makes for a genuinely hands-up moment. AceMoMA connect back to their NYC forefathers (with nods to techno dons Derrick May and Jeff Mills), while also keeping a healthy disregard for the past, pushing ahead with palpable enthusiasm and energy. As Stevens explained in that same interview, “[As] brown people making dance music… we needed to create context for what we were doing. So we did.” Like the best moments of a night out, A New Dawn feels like instant history and an instant party.