Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Worth It In 2011: #20 - Locussolus

Hey, here's one of my singles of the year: the Lindstrom and Prins Thomas remix of "I Want It"! At Singles Jukebox I said this:

Imported from the sleek original, the dialogue between DJ Harvey and his female admirer is funny enough, especially if you picture them haggling over a donut, but Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas send their remix to exalted heights of lunacy. The music here is hilarious in itself; I will attempt to correct this hilarity by dissecting it. Some of the hilarity comes from the abrupt, precise marksmanship of the musical elements, horn charts and honky-tonk piano furrowing brows and pursuing serious purposes known only to them — I call this the Evil Choir From “Blue Monday” kaBLOOM! effect. (New Order: greatest comedy band since the City Slickers? Discuss.) Some of the hilarity is referential, with the immensely gratifying sonic punchlines “Shocking Blue” and “Mannheim Steamroller”. And the beat — THE BEAT — combines timing with reference, a giddy twitch recalling the Chemical Brothers’ “Galaxy Bounce”, which — you remember! — underpinned that immensely gratifying scene in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the part where Lara Croft raided all the tombs. 

I was a little nervous to review the album, a collection of singles and remixes, because whaddo I know about dance music, but it turns out DJ Harvey "Locussolus" Bassett is a funny and fun-loving dude whose attitude translates into pop terms. Below: the parts of the PopMatters review that don't concern "I Want It":

(International Feel)

“Next to You”, the flipside of “I Want It”, features a slow strut of a beat and a synth breakdown that sounds more like an Atari breaking down. A female admirer sings wispy come-ons while Harvey offers to eat his shoe in his suavest Right Said Fred croon. It’s the true sound of chillwave. “Tan Sedan” plunders the deathless sound of Canadian Italo-disco group Lime, with Harvey looking for some loving in minor-key desperation as arpeggios gush around him.

Harvey makes his share of downtempo tunes, though he never sacrifices momentum or cool sound effects to do so. “Bloodbath” doesn’t exactly sound like a bloodbath, but it does have ominous white noise in the background, a repetitive three-note chirp, and ruminative strums out of Morricone. The bloodbath, you see, is taking place in the workroom of the lonely leather-clad DJ, his tools analogous to those used by the serial killer, his life a matter of careful planning and steady nerves, his hands always in the right place at the right time. (Harvey used to kill ‘em at the Ministry of Sound.) And “Throwdown” gets the “One of These Tunes Is Not Like the Others” award for most idiosyncratic track on a dance album. Specifically, it sounds like an Oasis ballad. Not a bad one, at that. Pretty chords, some weird guitar throb, and it makes for a nice change of pace.

Harvey’s dry British smirk is plastered across the very notes and beats of his disco music, so it’s ironic that the most annoying song here is also the one that goes for out-and-out laughs. Andrew Weatherall’s remix of “Gunship” has Harvey leering at “thickums” and pontificating about “big girls” and their “two cans of Spam”. Regardless of whether you dig the sentiment, a little of his unhinged drooling goes a long way. Aside from that nadir, Locussolus is varied, body-moving, and endlessly listenable. It’s also full of personality—no matter how far Harvey stretches his instrumental grooves, he can’t hide his cheeky sense of humor. I like his beard.

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