The French production team of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (aka: JUSTICE) first came onto the electronic scene around 2004, but it wasn’t until their debut full-length in 2007, that they really began to gain widespread international prominence. The album was simply titled † or “Cross“, due to it’s black album cover, which featured the silhouette of a giant 3-dimensional cross outlined in gold, not unlike the artwork from T.REX‘s Electric Warrior. The songs were driving, fragmented and crushing disco house dance mixes with heavy robotic warps and laser blasts in the vein of incredibly influential predecessors and countrymen, DAFT PUNK. The DAFT PUNK comparisons were unavoidable for the duo and Kanye West found no issue with biting elements from either of the groups, adding irony to his pre-Taylor Swift stage crash at the 2006 MTV EMAs in protest of losing to the Justice VS Simian “We Are Friends” video. Over the last 4 years, their stock has continued to rise along with their fan-base, they’ve played large musical events like Coachella and the Reading Festival, and even took home a Grammy. This year Justice is slated to release their sophomore effort. It’s already one of the most anticipated releases of the year and we have just received a fairly impressive video for the first single off of their follow up entitled, “Civilization“.
Technically, the track for “Civilization” was released back in March, but this new video for the single makes things a hell of a lot more interesting. The video is, more or less, based around the destruction of famous religious, historical, and governmental imagery. A giant hole in the sky makes way for an angelical beam of light to shine through to the Earth, which is visibly divided by it’s latitude and longitudinal grid-lines. Slowly, infamous statues and sculptures from around the world begin to collapse one after the other, while herds of bison run from enormous rock-slides and toppling disasters. The planet rotates upside down, until some other-worldly deity (as they all are, I suppose) exposes itself through the illuminated portal that started it all. Some of the statues featured, like the famous “Cristo Redentor de Corcorvado” of Rio de Janeiro and Buddha, come from religions iconography, while images like Stonehenge and an Easter Island head are simply wonders and anomalies that continue to puzzle scholars the world over. Then there are statues like Lady Justice and Mt. Rushmore with their own social and political implications. For a duo that calls themselves Justice and performs with a giant glowing version of their adopted cross trademark on stage with them, such focus on symbolism is definitely a reoccurring them with these guys. Beyond their simple use of religious imagery in their logo and title, their last album featured songs with such loaded titles as “Genesis“, “Let There Be Light“, and “Waters of Nazareth“. In fact, even with the track “DVNO” -which Rosnay has explained is titled “Divino” by saying “In most suburbs of the world, in every city, there’s most of the time, a nightclub called El Divino…sometimes… Clubs where you have to wear a white shirt to get in, half the time.“, the term “Divino” still translates from Spanish into “To The Divine“.
Religious or otherwise, I can appreciate watching shit collapse while swarms of bison attempt to avoid the destruction. That’s sort of entertainment is just universal. Plus, this video is visually stunning. “Civilization” definitely does evoke an end of times feel to it, however, I’m not sold on what should, perhaps, be the most important element of the piece… the music, itself. If this track is an example of what’s to come from the full release later this year, Justice has definitely taking a sharp turn in their sound and direction. This first offering features effected, yet clearly discernible, vocals mixed with a beat that makes it sound quite a bit too much like a Seventies Rock Opera for my taste. They made statement regarding † that the entire album was disco-based and that, if you didn’t hear that element in all of the songs at first, they would eventually present themselves with repeated listens. One strength that is often overlooked with the art of video is that, if it’s good enough and engaging enough, a good music video can draw the viewer in with enough repeated listens that the song might actually have time to unfold for them and/or get caught in their heads. The “Civilization” video is definitely of that caliber, but the song still has to have a solid enough core within it and contain enough complexity and levels to actually be able to expose itself to the listener over time. On the other hand, if there’s nothing there, it won’t matter how many times you hear something mediocre. For now, we still have a pretty crazy video to watch and time will tell if Justice is still operating ahead of their time or if they’ve simply shrugged and dropped the ball.