Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goldfrapp & Big Hair: Ride For It

Goldfrapp - "A&E" (Hercules & Love Affair remix)


Big Hair - "Sold Down the River"
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This remix by Hercules & Love Affair of Goldfrapp is super dope. I'm really digging how Hercules' non-album output, the 12"s and remixes, are less about disco glitz than like early Chicago house beatdowns. So if you have homo-disco panic you can listen to this track without fear: it has melancholic sexy girl vocals, syncopated bonky-drums workout and cool African-chant samples.

Big Hair - Sold Down the River
UK house duo'sm 2003 full-length, discovered through Trey. All that needs to be said about this is that it's miles away from the glut of peppy cornball house music that is the scourge of the earth. It's pretty tech-house, so it's got a disco palette but the whole thing is very tightly-wounded, minimal and groove-oriented. Deep and bugged, rather goofy sometimes like if Monty Python had a DJ act, never alienating.

Also instead of trying to craft some kind of dynamic album experience (like Booka Shade's new album for example) the group just goes straight for the jugular from start to finish, producing a live album mix of previously self-released material. Note to all musicians: do this. It doesn't matter if you're psych folk or what. Make an album that's one long megamix, somehow. It will be cool. The title of the Big Hair record refers to busking, basically, and the cover is supposed to make them look like they're sad-sack organ-grinder losers who are plying their trade.

I straight ride for this and really wish they were still putting out jams. Get it and put it on your iphone or whatever and get on your bike and ride for it.

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Riding a bicycle should be taken as an exemplary model for how people and machines can hang out together. It doesn't spoil the environment, it's faster than just walking on feet but you also get exercise. Everything is working together. That's the music part of it. What' s so remarkable about music especially performance is that it's a person and a machine (even a guitar is a machine, or a dulcimer or whatever) working together and producing something for no reason. That's the Kant part of it, that it's beautiful because it has no point to it.

If for example you bike from your apt on south Bedford to Central Park, and you go up 6th avenue and you have headphones on, and you're listening to remixes of Allez-Allez, everything will take on that dreamlike, deceptive veneer of being together. NYC's daily tumult, the careening automobiles, the oblivious crosswalkers. You coasting by on a used Schwinn, everything kept dancing together via smooth laser disco propulsion. Dreamlike and deceptive because it can be quite an evocative experience but you know it's hiding just as much about the world as it is revealing.

That's something that irritates me about perception in general - the implicit awareness that during a moment of pronounced revelation, like the way things show themselves in concert as you're tearing uptown on a bike with headphones, the world pulls the curtain back on itself while it steps once again into the shadows at the same time. Good music soundtracking is about helping to stage an opening of the world, a particular stage for how the world can show itself.

In any case it's all about matching speeds and intensities. Have you ever listened to DJ Screw during morning rush hour? it's really weird.

Writing on the medium of cinema's fixation with the street (In his Theory of Film, read it or at least pretend to have), Siegfried Kracauer says that he means in particular

"the city street with its ever-moving anonymous crowds. The kaleidoscopic sights mingle with unidentified shapes and fragmentary visual complexes and cancel each other out, thereby preventing the onlooker from following up any of the innumerable suggestions they offer. What appears to him are not so much sharp-contoured individuals engaged in this or that definable pursuit as loose throngs of sketchy, completely indeterminate figures. Each has a story, yet the story is not given. Instead, an incessant flow of possibilities and near-intangible meanings appears. This flow casts its spell over the flaneur or even creates him. The flaneur is intoxicated with life in the street - life eternally dissolving the patterns which it is about to form."

But for all the talk of flaneurs, those meandering, contemplative urban dandies that show up all the time in Kracauer and Benjamin, or Guy Debord for that matter, do they ever get on a bike and just go for it? or do they just loll around poking at things with their canes and think about the commodity fetish?

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