Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hands In The Dark

I'm blogging in my back yard! Vision's not great but, hey, at least I'm getting a tan.*

I've been a big fan of both Glass Candy and Chromatics for quite some time now, as regular readers of the blog will know, so when I heard that they were contributing tracks to a new compilation for Mike Simonetti's Troubleman Unlimited offshoot, Italians Do It Better, I couldn't PayPal my $12 quickly enough. The compilation showcases the five acts on that label (GC, Chromatics, Mirage, Farah and Professor Genius) and displays the label to be at the very forefront of the Italo revival.

There's a very singular sensibility at work here across the board, but each band have their own distinctive trademarks. I guess Glass Candy are the most accessible of the five, as they have a pop edge to their new wave disco. Chromatics, on the other hand, have an altogether subtler feel to their rhythms. Minimalistic in approach, with the end product actually being quite dramatic in sweep, their songs pulse with a flair for the cinematic (think John Carpenter's early self-penned soundtracks), as anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing 'In The City' (represented here in a magnificent extended 12" version) will attest.

The other three acts I knew very little about before checking out this comp. Farah bring the no-wave, performance art-y vibes on their two tracks, 'Law Of Life' and 'Dancing Girls', while Professor Genius' offerings are more on the traditional Italo tip. Mirage's efforts have them making a serious play for being my favourite Italians Do It Better artist. Their own tunes, 'Lake Of Dreams' and 'Lady Operator' are icy cool synth 'n' vocoder workouts, but it's their remix of Indeep's dancefloor standard, 'Last Nite A DJ Saved My Life' that most impresses. They manage to breathe life into a song so ubiquitous that it's often hard to remember what a great song it is. Mirage's re-touch strips away the Studio 54 excesses of the original and adds a veneer of classy synth sweeps and a squelchy digi-bassline that vamps along thrillingly. Without a doubt one of my favourite remixes of the year so far.

While the inexorable wait for Glass Candy and Chromatics' new albums - entitled Life After Sundown and Shining Violence respectively - drags on further, this fills a gap nicely and in Mirage it has spawned a new obsession. If you want it yourself, follow the link above to Chromatics' MySpace, send them a message and the band's own Adam Miller will tell you how to do just that. In the meantime, here's a taster of what you're in for.

Indeep - Last Nite A DJ Saved My Life (Mirage Remix) (mp3)

Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (Belle Epoque cover) (mp3)

Dizzee Rascal's third album, Maths And English is, it seems, a bit of a make-or-break one for the erstwhile Dylan Mills. After breaking out with Boy In Da Corner, one of the strongest and indeed best albums of the noughties so far, then taking chances with the experimental, overly ostentatious Showtime, this album marks a return to the sound of his debut but is imbued with all the trappings of post-rise to fame hip-hop albums, in that Dizzee takes aim at the haters, the biters and the industry itself over its fourteen tracks.

It's most definitely a more fulfilling, enjoyable album than its predecessor, but it's still wildly inconsistent and sometimes just head-scratchingly off-the-mark. You'll all know the single, 'Sirens' by now, a pugnacious, combative primal roar that switches up style over halfway through from the Americanised spittle-drenched over-pronunciation of the first part to a more hyper, machine gunning approach in the final stretch. It's one of Dizzee's best singles, in my opinion, and there's plenty more like it here.

'Bubbles' - an ode to fresh new Nike Air kicks - has an irrepressible bounce, while 'Hardback (Industry)' has a venomous punch to it. It's 'Da Feelin'' that really kills though. Produced by d'n'b stalwart, Shy FX and reportedly taking a year to complete, it's a breezy, lusty paean to the summertime and, more specifically, the way the ladies dress at that time of year. Its twelve-month gestation period, during which time Joss Stone's vocals were mercifully cut, belies its effortless energy. It sounds like it was knocked off in twelve minutes actually, with Dizzee's vocal coming off more like a freestyle than anything else here.

Elsewhere though, the Lily Allen collab, 'Wanna Be' is too cartoonish, with its Bugsy Malone sample and 'Suk My Dick' is just horrible. As a snapshot of an artist unsure of his place in modern music yet belligerent with it, Maths And English is an often brilliant, but patchy listen.

Dizzee Rascal - Da Feelin' (mp3)

Bonus Beats

Erykah Badu - Bag Lady (Cheebah Sac Radio Edit) (mp3)

Recently rediscovered this one with the aid of And It Don't Stop. Brilliant languid summer jam and an overlooked modern classic to boot. Oh, those tambourines!

By the way, if you're interested, I'm on this week's Blog Fresh Radio talking about the new Frost album.



*Came back indoors after about twenty minutes because I couldn't see a thing.

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Blogger NOTHING TO SEE HERE :O said...

Hi J and TANKS for the mix

I havent heard all of diz's new stuff yet but I think Basement jaxx had more of an effect on the guy than we even know...I wish theyd have just left him alone .. Lucky star was a great tune, I just think that they sucked him dry..*awaits nxt album*

See you sooooooon :D

2:10 pm  
Blogger Mulrine said...

Yea, I've not got round to getting my hands on D. Rascal's latest album. Much to my annoyance.

9:27 am  

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