Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Disco Treatment

Grand Ferry Park, Brooklyn

Donald Byrd - Love Has Come Around
Chic - I Want Your Love (Todd Terje edit)

A very lazy Saturday afternoon was spent napping in the sun and reading "The Yiddish Policeman's Union." Two things became known to me that day: the first being that Grand Ferry Park is so named because prior to the construction of the Williamsburg bridge, a ferry connected the two Grand Streets on either side of the East River, and which are in fact parallel. This was told to me by my friend Annie, whom I encountered on the sidewalk yard-selling with her husband Doug. 

The second thing is that there is a thing called Fine Diving, and it is a New York entity dedicated to promoting electronic-experimental music, and whose Fine Diving 004 party, a many-laptopped affair, was enjoying the park that same luxuriously warm late September saturday as I was.  

A lost echo of summer like this is somehow even more beautiful than summer proper, because it's an unexpected, undeserved surprise, and those out moving under its spell seem even more enlivened than they would during August's punishing sweat-swamp. 

While people-watching and enjoying Fine Diving, I reflected on something that has long been a kind of, let's say, metaphysical anxiety. A looming dread about the disappearance of every thing that happens, realizing in an anxious way that it's impossible to preserve anything, and thus impossible to really know it, to do it justice, to experience or love it fully. That the world never ceases to slip by, eternally unredeemed. Thus engaging in art, in whatever form, is somehow the last ditch effort of a desperate race, which has little other recourse in hedging the inexorable flow of time.

One way of temporarily plugging up this flow is dance music. Because it offers a fleeting sense of fullness, of plentitude, of complete presence, and in its hypnotic rhythms, it makes you feel like the flux of time has momentarily ceased.  So if you find yourself made ill by time, let me recommend these tracks:

"Love Has Come Around" is a disco classic. Disco is not something I take lightly, because alot of it is garbage. But the bits of it worth keeping are so white-hot pleasurable that they can bypass all critical faculties, and you really have no choice whether you like it or not. Especially important in NYC, where people ask themselves "am I allowed to like this?" before they even encounter something directly. This track by Donald Byrd is a supremely powerful, joyful roller-skate masterwerk. 

Todd Terje's edit of "I Want Your Love" by Chic is top-shelf sultry narcosis, glamorous, suffused with erotic longing, tinged with trippy dub-edit touches. Just listen to the energies of each track: the celebratory burst of Love Has Come Around versus the edgier propulsion of I Want Your Love: it's an exemplary study of time and desire. Enjoy, dance, be therapized, avert your eyes from the inexorable flow of time and your helplessness to intervene. 

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