Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Âme : “Enoi"

Now this is fucking blistering, and I don't use the bad word lightly. What a simple idea. Take a techno track with scattered vocal fragments rippling through the hi-gloss fabric: "Wish", "eeeh" etc; take various frenzied clankings and spastik sound events and gothik synths and peculiar chants, then build up the beats and the bass-spring and the intensity, and then, just when it's really ticking, introduce us to the cry of the alien tripods from War of the Worlds, like a psychotic fog-horn. Scared the willies out of me the first time. And then every other time too. The A-Side, Balandine, is equally unhinged, a vicious bass-riff being submerged beneath hard Detroit beats.

Frenzied, epic, orchestral, this is techno at its best.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night

In which the Chemical Brothers continue their ineluctable slide toward the awful. I've given it a few tries now, and the question keeps coming up: when and why would I listen to this? When it's sonically affecting (which is not often), I still can't help wonder what I could be listening to that would deliver the same payoff at least twice as hard. The beats used to fun or hard or dirty or some thrilling combination of the three; now they mostly just sit there. The psychedelia, already largely in retreat with Push The Button, has all but disappeared, and the songs just aren't memorable enough.

The title track never gets going, the Midlake track is banal, and I never want to hear the nonsense with Willy Mason or god help us the Klaxons again. Easily the most enjoyable track is The Salmon Song with Fatlip, and that's the one that sounds least like the Chems. Maybe I need to listen a few more times. It's just that right now, doing that sounds like a chore; something I never thought I'd be saying about a Chems album.

The horror, the horror

There comes a time when the running must stop, when one must confront the very thing from which one flees. To drain the poison, to exorcise the demon. Otherwise, that which you've tried to erase will always be there at the threshold of consciousness, leering and gibbering like a maniac.

All of which is by way of saying that The Travelling Wilburys albums have been re-released. Well, I'm not afraid any more. I'm going to look my demon square in the face and say "You can't beat me, Lord Baal!" And at that point, my psychic wounds will heal and I will be accepted with love into a balmy sunlit world of joy and grace.

Forgive the saturnalia of sarcasm, but the Wilburys first album also happens to be the first album I really loved, with the possible exception of Cloud Nine by George Harrison. In a time before U2, or The Cure, or any number of later obsessions, I listened to Volume 1 hundreds of times. It struck me as the very acme of what music could do.

"Handle Me With Care". Yes! Handle me with care - such prescience! Handle me with care, lest I crumple beneath the combined weight of your breezy youthless genius. "Tweeter and the Monkey-Man". It turns out that Bob Dylan had recorded plenty of albums and songs before this, and that some of these were, and still are, thought to be good. Am I ashamed to admit that "Tweeter" was the first Bob Dylan song I ever loved? Yes; but there it is.

On the other hand, I've no intention of re-listening to either record. What if the healing rays of musical hope turn out to be mere overpolished session rock, with all the fragrant charm of an o'er-brimming chamberpot? No, I'll just have to stay repressed, to keep that little scaley demon fellow fed and watered and hopefully becalmed. Otherwise, I’m likely to find myself posting on the genius of George Michael's "Jesus to a Child".

That way damnation lies.