Steve Aoki’s ‘Wonderland’: Star-centric collaborations abound

January 16, 2012
Steve Aoki
Wonderland

Steve Aoki was a well-born celebrity DJ before most people knew that well-born celebrity DJs existed. Aoki is famous for his connections (his father founded the Benihana restaurant chain, and his list of musical collaborators makes the Ronsons look like amateurs) and for his equal-opportunity marriage of electronica to just about every identifiable genre, whether it’s a good idea or not: electronica and hip-hop, electronica and hard-core, electronica and stoner pop.

His new release, “Wonderland,” compiles several years’ worth of club hits and star-centric collaborations into a sleek package that is only as good as its guest stars. The sure-footed “Come With Me (Dead Meat)” is a burbling cauldron of house music, robot noises and New Age diva vocals courtesy of Russian singer Polina Goudieva; the obligatory dubstep track “Ladi Dadi,” a collaboration with singer Wynter Gordon, is nevertheless pretty great, as is the Rivers Cuomo-guesting, Weezer-at-the-club track “Earthquakey People (The Sequel).”

There are less successful pairings with cartoon rapper Lil Jon and Chiddy Bang (on “Emergency,” which feels like a gentler take on the recent Lil Jon/Aoki hit “Turbulence”) and LMFAO on the brand-extension exercise “Livin’ My Love.” On “The Kids Will Have Their Say,” vocals from former members of legendary punk bands Die Kreuzen and the Exploited are bolted onto a martial dance riff. It’s the logical extension of Aoki’s love of heavy metal and the awkward commingling of disparate genres. As a theoretical exercise (who knew those guys were still alive?) it’s a gobsmacker. As a would-be banger, it’s a really bad idea.

Allison Stewart

Steve Aoki performs at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Feb. 11.


Steve Aoki's “Wonderland.” (Courtesy of Ultra Records)

Recommended tracks

“Ladi Dadi,” “Come With Me (Dead Meat)”

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