X-PRESS 2 : Muzikizum

Sensible dad house masterclass...

Intelligent house music – it used to make about as much sense as quiet heavy metal. But now the pioneering deep house hits of the late ’80s/early ’90s pad out today’s chill-out compilations, and rave nostalgia is a boom industry, US-style house music already seems prematurely aged. While once it was the soundtrack to wild sexual abandon and massive drug abuse, these days it would barely wake a toddler. Hence its newly common prefix, dad house.

And the lead single from nine-year-old house trio, [a][/a]’s

first album ‘Muzikizum’ is dad house from its balding,

shaven pate to its posh-but-understated trainers. ‘Lazy’ pinches

the chord change from Alison Limerick’s ‘Where Love Lives’ but imports David Byrne from [a]Talking Heads[/a] to add the required old man gravitas. It’s this year’s equivalent of ‘Finally’ by

[a][/a] – a record as mystifyingly bland to those under

30 as it is thrilling to those of a more advanced age.

Fortunately, [a][/a] –- DJs Ashley Beedle, Rocky and Diesel –

are on more inclusive ground when they bin the guest stars and bring the noise. Their talent is to take house music cliches – four-on-the-floor drums, testifying vocals, build-ups, breakdowns, yada yada – and hone them into murderously efficient dancefloor destroyers.

Last year’s single ‘Muzikizum’ (note clever-clogs palindromic title) could have bought down any house club from New York to Norwich at any point

over the last 20 years. Previous 12-inches ‘Smoke Machine’

and ‘AC/DC’ perform the same trick, only with cheering crowds and

honking noises respectively.

In this sense, [a][/a] are like a

dancefloor [a][/a]; great at pleasing

the crowds, less good at innovation, and fatally weakened by their reverence for washed-up old rockers. They’re better when hooked up with

washed-up old electronica stars – Dieter Meier, of Eighties Swiss eccentrics

[a]Yello[/a], ‘sings’ on ‘I Want You Back’, the whole thing coming on like an

inspired throwback to [a]Kraftwerk[/a]’s ‘Music Non Stop’. But the other vocal track, ‘Call That Love’, really is lazy, a clapped out diva vehicle about peace, unity etc, while the closer, ‘The Ending’ is too

‘Strings Of Life’-inspired for comfort.

‘Muzikizum’ seems to confirm that house music is now about

nostalgia rather than futurism, a ‘these you have loved’-style collection of tropes to remind the old folks about when they really used

to ‘ave it. [a][/a] know what they’re doing, but for a once black, homosexual,

pilled-up music subculture, it’s all gone rather… straight.

Alex Needham