The Prairie Cartel is composed of two musicians who decided they wanted to be DJs and then backslid into being a band after the tracks they recorded for fills were the hot requests at their gigs. The duo’s good fortune crossed into deal with the devil territory when producers of Grand Theft Auto IV took notice of the newly formed band’s live shows and put them on one of the radio stations in the game. With a guaranteed audience of millions, the Prairie Cartel decided it was time to actually record some music. The result was two EPs resembling soundtracks from second generation video games that jumped straight from the console to the dance floor.
The lead track on EP1, “Cracktown,” begins with a pinging synthesizer that immediately brings to mind the theme from Knight Rider and a host of racing games from the late ’80s. The duo builds this simple to structure to a fully orchestrated dance number that blends throaty vocals, fake handclaps, and intermittent scratching. The result, which could have been a wicked mess, is instead a decadent bit of futuristic retro fun. The song’s hook also shows its flexibility on two remixes highlighting some of the different layers built into the song. Though each take offers a different perspective on the song, each of them retain the sense of playfulness that informed the original composition.
The rest of the songs comprising the two EPs are variations on the same theme, including “Homicide,” the song that eventually ended being featured on Grand Theft Auto IV. Each of the tracks are built of the same basic pieces and constructed with enough swagger to bring a little rock music back into the dance club. The Prairie Cartel had better quit playing video games, though, and get working on a full-length.