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.