Monday, September 25, 2006

Addendum musings about long-ass tracks and the wild world of amateur record playing:

Being hyper-ADD and coming from a deep rooted post-punk/rock'n'roll philosophy about playing records for people to dance to, I've always been most drawn to DJs who can rapidly sequence songs from a variety of genres and create a dense, complex experience over a short amount of time. That's why going to the early Motherfucker events and listening to Cowboy Mark and Carlos D spin at Lit circa 2002-3 was such a blast of fresh air and inspiration (not to mention... okay, to mention: 2 Many DJs, Optimo, and especially the Nag Nag Nag crew from London.) It reminded me of City Club during the Wax Trax! glory days, and the golden rule of never ever playing more than three songs in a row from the same genre. That said, most readers know I spent plenty of time in the Detroit techno scene early on (mostly as a curious rivet-head,) and then again for a few years in NY (as an old-ass rivet-head who had discovered Prada...) so I understand the culture is completely different and respect it for what it is - which is a tremendous amount of fun in the right mind-set.

Going through the top played Dethlab selections since May, I noticed that not only are most of them technically "techno" records (super nasty, gnarzy techno records mind you,) but are extremely long. The long part bothers me, because I really prefer to play songs start to finish in their entirety, as intended by the artist. Referencing the previously cited Pitchfork article, most of these are not designed for listeners, but rather for DJs to cut up and mix into sets. The really unfortunate part of this trend is that the original songs bloat into eight to twenty minute tracks that have little hope of ever being played on the radio, or by electronic-oriented rock DJs (ahem,) or listened to at home by anyone but the most dedicated. I absolutely adore Audion's Mouth to Mouth, but would love to see nine minutes chopped out of it, and it become a hit pop song - which it could so easily be. The thing that sets Mouth to Mouth apart from most of the current long players is it has essentially a punk-rock song structure, and delivers a wide range of experiences and sounds throughout. Two other Dethlab favorites, Black Powder and Anticipation also fit this paradigm. All three tracks cited actually are extremely similar to the tried-and-true trademark Nine Inch Nails structure of soft-loud-repeat, deeply rooted in UK punk. The songs I find myself most drawn to are about building anticipation and then delivering with a bang. (We should note here that there is a huge difference between building anticipation and trance's "epic breakdowns", which are not only stupid, but leave people with nothing to do for uncomfortably extended periods of time while the DJ essentially jacks off.) The undisputed master of building anticipation and applying punk song structure to electronic music is Mr. Pascal Arbez a.k.a. Vitalic. Arbez's latest, Bells is admittedly Vitalic-by-numbers, but the Vitalic formula is nothing to screw with, and Bells is the most refined example to date. Clocking in at a mere five and a half minutes, it is an exercise is decadence for the listener, and one can't help to pump their fist every time the bass kicks back in - which is often. Just like a good hard rocking techno track should be.

Then again this is all just the opinion of someone with too much time on his hands on a Monday night.

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