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Beat smarts

Minneapolis’ Estate thrives on smart decisions
Beat smarts
Image by Jules Ameel


Where: 7th Street Entry

701 N. 1st Ave.

When: September 10, 9:00 p.m.


New-wave aesthetics are a tough thing to work with. Classic toys like vocoders and arpeggiators can put a track one step away from becoming an anachronism. In the case of Minneapolis electronic trio Estate, sticking that tricky landing is all about sincerity.

The group’s Nuclear City EP, which came out last month, is riddled with those ’80s tropes. The harpish synthesizers roll through the tracks, and most hooks are fleshed out with shimmering claps.

It also sounds strikingly authentic, something that seems to result from their nostalgic affections.

“It’s definitely not a conscious choice,” member Josh Johnson said, “It’s just what we’re drawn to in video and design and music.”

This small synthpop passion outlet has, however, gained some encouraging exposure. Last fall, a few of Estate’s singles popped up on ABC’s “FlashForward” and the CW’s “Gossip Girl.”

“You do your hobbies, and it’s just sort of nice to get that high-five,” member Dan Kramer said.

However, the band says the flattering national attention, which was negotiated externally by a licensing firm, has yet to yield any career-altering returns.

“We got a royalty check that paid rent for a month which was pretty nice,” Johnson joked, “I mean, we’re not retired or anything yet.”

Yet, this primetime presence is a fraction of the Estate enterprise. Electronic acts aren’t traditionally thought of as working-class bands. However, this thirty-something collective of producers seems to be making rent one musical odd job at a time.

In March of 2009, the group crafted an engaging little ambient soundtrack for the iPhone game Ascaerus, a commissioned project that provided an opportunity to diversify their aural muscles.

“It shows a side of our production that we don’t necessarily show in our EP’s,” Kramer said, “All of that floaty, loopy stuff.”

Estate also signed to UK imprint Mullet Records over this summer in a greater step towards playing in that international sandbox of electronic musicians.

“It’s cool for me because I have been listening to these bands that Josh queued me in on,” Kramer said, “Then I find we’re on the same label as the guys we’re putting on our mixes.”

The band seems to work as a shining example of a small act thriving on the tools of the modern world, showing that a small-market band can thrive without losing vindication.

“We’ve never really done anything for our image.” Johnson said, “We just like what we do.”

It’s reassuring to know that Estate, with its dead-ringer hyper-sheen dance tracks, has the business side covered. That way they never have to give up the passion.

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