♫♪  Empire Line - “Syndicat de la Couture”

Legendary Basque clothing designer Cristóbal Balenciaga had a vision for fashion that had less to do with fitting clothes on a person than with altering the wearer’s shape. Whether by squaring a torso or raising a waistline, his aesthetic was additive; somebody wearing his work was changed, used to articulate an idea not of how people naturally looked, but how else they might.

Producing duo Jonas Rönnberg and Christian Stadsgaard borrow the name of their project, Empire Line, from one of Balenciaga’s most iconic fashion lines, and it’s easy to see the kinship they must feel for the designer. A radical master tailor, Balenciaga found new ways to work with fabric and space to bring his imagination to life; similarly, Stadsgaard & Rönnberg manipulate the raw material of minimal techno and industrial noise with deep precision, cutting away and folding into rhythm and noise to make something very specific to their own vision.

Listening to their debut on Guy Brewer’s Avian label, the Syndicat de la Couture EP, I’m also reminded of a different “Empire line” — the Empire Service train that runs between New York and Niagara Falls, a long ride that graces both the beauty of the Hudson Valley and the fading outer rust belt melancholy of Albany and Buffalo. The music on this record captures that same uneasy marriage of woods and industry, of nature and design, and the sense that these elements have not been kept quite in balance. In this instance — how Empire Line’s steady beats call back to the propulsion of not just wheels on steel, but the runway — design wins, beautifully.

We are proud to premiere the record’s title track below. Syndicat de la Couture is available January 23 from Avian.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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