There are a million different moments in the history of dance music competing for space in the songs of the U.K. duo Gorgon City. There's flashes of standard, four-on-the-floor techno, a snatch of house piano, a half-second of slicing, razor-sharp rave — all materializing and vanishing, noticeable only to attentive ears. What was most remarkable about their set at Hype Hotel on Friday afternoon is how they used all of these disparate elements in the service of joyful, carefully-composed pop songs.

They were aided in their quest by a small team of supporting musicians — most notably, vocalists Josh Barry and Lulu James, who helmed the majority of the group's songs and made the whole effort feel unified and bandlike. On opener "Coming Home," the rhythm shuffled and twitched, Gorgon City members Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott filling in the background with light, pastel-colored synths while Barry delivered its lithe, slippery vocal melody. "Real" was even sparer, soft, twinkling constellations of sound speckling the song while James slipped and snaked between them. And "Imagination" was bright-eyed and euphoric, its rapturous chorus and twisted hiccups of synth making it sound like some lost interstellar disco single. It was the afternoon's one moment of pure bliss, all elements cohering to create something physical and jubilant.

The duo used the one moment when Barry and James left the stage to indulge their more aggressive impulses. The song they developed was harried and frantic, bright streaks of laserlike synths streaking across empty air, eventually joined by a chattering, mile-a-minute snare before collapsing into a simple, straightforward techno rhythm. It made for a breathtaking moment of musical whiplash, two producers briefly ignoring convention and striking out into darker terrain.

Written by: J. Edward Keyes
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