The ex-Smith proves his greatness on a spiky live album
It's tempting to conclude that dance music is not suited to the album format....
But (Roni) size isn't everything, because at least Armand Van Helden has got the funk. Surely the reason why big beat cleaned up, and the reason your Daft Punks and Stardusts were greeted like saviours and the reason Armand Van Helden gets Number Ones without really trying is because he realises there's nothing wrong with such distastefully traditional commodities as big, brash beats and bootie-shaking basslines.
That's why you can politely ignore the fact that 'Earth Mother' is a nine-minute 50-second paean to the rape of the environment, because the jungle rumble of the bass takes it somewhere hypnotically addictive between drum'n'bass and diva-wailing house. Likewise, the well-worn sample sources (horror films, sci-fi, answer machine messages) on 'Boogie Monster' and 'Aliens' hardly seem worth criticising as long as they have a flamboyant P-funk bassline and a clattering breakbeat. Meanwhile, 'You Don't Know Me' and 'Flowers' are irresistible purely as joyously camp disco gems.
For all that, though, '2Future4U' just irritates too much too often to digest in one sitting. Like Fatboy Slimmy-ninny fwuckafwuckafwucka Fat-Fat-Fatboy Slimmy-ninny, Armand Van Helden has a couple of tricks he uses ad nauseam. The first is the world-famous 'stuck needle' effect, in which he will repeat a snippet 700-odd pissing times.
This is often employed in conjunction with the 'washing machine', in which he muffles the sound as if he's thrown the speaker into the tub on hot wash, then pulls it out, then puts it back in again, then... yes, you get the 'picture'. It's quite impressive the first n-n-n-n-nineteen times. But as the main victim of these techniques, 'Psychic Bounty Killers' is like coitus interruptus with no orgasm at the end of it. But still a sticky mess.
And so the campaign for self-editing in dance music gathers pace. '2Future4U'? Maybe, but also just a bit 2Long and 2Patchy.
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