Sad Boys on the Dance Floor
by Philip Sherburne | March 10, 2014
"We were always pro-sadness on the dancefloor," Michael Mayer told me when I interviewed him last year. He wasn't kidding: Kompakt's DJs can bang it out when they want to, but many artists on the label's roster (or in its extended family) are equally well known for the melancholy they bring to their music. Just see Superpitcher's wistful remix of Dntel's "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan". Indeed, Superpitcher is pretty much the undisputed master of a certain strain of misty-eyed techno-pop, as is evident from both his own productions and his remixes for Ghost Cauldron, Contriva and [M83].
But misery loves company, and Superpitcher's sad-sack style has spread widely in recent years. Brooding basslines, minor-key melodies and doleful male vocals have become the hallmarks of a sound heard far and wide in underground dance music. DJ Koze, normally a trickster, went all-out emo on last year's "Nices Wölkchen", featuring Apparat. Mano Le Tough, despite his name, has proven himself a softie again and again with songs like "Stories" and "She Sighed". And Berlin's Innervisions label has cast a somber shadow over songs otherwise imbued with open-air-festival energy on records from The Howling and Ry. We pay tribute to the bittersweet style with a playlist featuring the aforementioned artists plus John Talabot, Lawrence, Jacob Korn, Ricoshëi and more.