Another season, another chance to dust off the well-thumbed treatise on the future of DFA. Sinkane’s late-summer grooves recall the humid soul of Marvin Gaye but without the social commentary. Meanwhile The Juan MacLean, now the trading name of John MacLean and Nancy Whang, go stratospheric on In A Dream. Continue reading Luxury problems
Back when I was at school, the guy alphabetically proximate to me in class was into a lot of teenage emo and pop-punk. Think Fall Out Boy, Green Day, I don’t even want to remember the names of the others—he’s already going to hate me for saying this. Anyway, he went to university, switched things round a bit, and now puts the name of MiniCritch (named in honour of our old Latin teacher) to his music, which veers between caustic house and the glitchy brand of reggaeton known as ‘Moombahton’. You should definitely check his stuff out.
His latest track is “Doctor Black” (see above), which rides along a seriously fat ground bass line and has frenetic lead synths that syncopate with the four-to-the-floor beat. There are also some comedy cut-up vocal samples, which give the whole thing, like the rest of MiniCritch’s stuff, an endearingly DIY feel. Near the end, a highly-resonant line kicks in an octave up, before the track cuts out like a dying robot.
Be sure to watch out for his next move: he drops new tracks and remixes whenever he’s busy being pedagogical.
If you read Simon Reynolds’s excellent essay “Maximal Nation” you’ll know that, in the main, electronic music in the 1990s was “deep/dark/stark”, with some notable exceptions. One such exception was Basement Jaxx, the creative pairing of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, forged in cult Brixton club nights. Somehow, they became a pop phenomenon, to the extent that their debut album Remedy, released in 1999, was one of my early musical purchases (My actual first? I subconsciously pestered my parents into buying Michael Jackson’s Dangerous on cassette in 1994).
Remedy had a sweaty album cover that demanded being placed face-down to avoid parental detection, and it also had a singularly obnoxious song on it that might well be seen as the forefather to Reynolds’s “digital maximalism”. “Jump n’ Shout” (see above) has a clattering house beat, incongruous wobbling and kettle-whistling sound effects, and a totally reckless parping lead synth. Did I mention MC Slarta John’s incomprehensible rapping, which vomits all over syntactical conventions?
Somehow, in spite of the panoply of competing elements (there’s even a beautiful, eastern-sounding melody buried somewhere deep in the mix), Buxton and Ratcliffe pull it off. The song is so ridiculous, you can’t help but fall for its charms. Call it the ADHD puppy that’s simultaneously yelping, biting, scratching and urinating on your leg, which you nonetheless take into your home.
I liked Hercules And Love Affair a lot, from the moment I heard “Roar”, right up until they released their second album, Blue Songs, when it all turned a bit rote. The best part of their first, self-titled, album was the sense that you were listening to a real-life band, making disco like it used to be made, to be played out in Studio 54. Come Blue Songs, and this sensation vanished, into the pulsating streams of Detroit.
Lucky, then, that three of the people who made their début such good fun have formed their own outfit, dubbed Jessica 6. Led by the transfixing vocalist Nomi Ruiz, this trio (flanked by Morgan Wiley on keys, and Andrew Raposo on bass) trade in a bleepy kind of house that’s equally indebted to P-Funk and disco. On teaser track “Prisoner of Love”, which also spotlights a guest turn from Antony Hegarty, the way the chorus vocals repeating the titular hook are stacked so high is straight outta the songbook of the greats. Think Chic, in a good way.
Maybe they don’t have the strength in depth that H&LA mainman Andy Butler displayed on the deeper cuts of his first album. Both “Prisoner of Love” and another teaser, “White Horse”, could perhaps be called skin-deep. But the unexpected breakdown a minute before the end of “Prisoner of Love” gave me second thoughts. And so I’m definitely considering the idea that their album, See The Light, could become this year’s Hercules And Love Affair.
Shame on the Mercury judges for not nominating Jarvis Cocker’s refreshingly urgent Further Complications. While you digest that lamentation, you can also frazzle your brain by listening to the recent Pilooski remix of the album’s closing track, “You’re In My Eyes (Discosong)”, which is highly recommended, and is free.
The acclaimed French electronic artist re-imagines the song as a hushed, slithering dance track, with a lobotomising bass-line complemented by a crisp beat and inventive whistling percussive noises that leap out unexpectedly. Virtually nothing remains from the original – even the vocals are tampered with and re-ordered, occasionally warped into minor explosions that blurt out of the speakers. About two minutes in, a strange, whining, groaning synth hovers perilously between the channels, and the distant chiming of a guitar whispers through. A minute later, there is a wonderfully unexpected breakdown with a sweep across a harp, after which the rest of the instruments cut back in with greater intensity.
The whole remix is beautifully crafted, charting the mournful depths of the song in an insistent, nagging manner. By the end, as the harp winds down to a whooshing gurgle, there is absolute closure. It’s a remix that evokes the very best of former DFA remixes, in particular the closing minutes of their liberal interpretation of Gorillaz’s “Dare”, and it bodes extremely well for Pilooski’s remix of LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33, due to be released on September 14 as part of the aptly titled 45:33 Remixes.