Thursday, April 19, 2007

What I did on my spring vacation

Striped socks
Nicola Millesuoni

I'm back, bloody hell. Blogging's an addiction I tell you. Don't ever start if you can help it.

Dadaughter - Matzak

I was never a club kid and even now am, at best, a techno tourist. But I'm always pleased when I find such bright, melodic, occasionally flat-out gorgeous electronic music as Matzak's Life Beginnings (eMusic, iTunes). The microhouse album's gestation period roughly tracked French producer Nicolas Matuszczak's first daughter's own internment in the womb, and if this riddle in nine syllables is rather unimaginatively titled, at least it severs itself from the sentimental new-daddy template -- right from the get-go. Opener "La Muerte" (yes, death) is a looped obscenity-spattered vocal sample riding dubby reverb and a progressively dense cacophony of beats and pulses. Not that I would know, but I betcha its foggy-headed alarum echoes parent-to-be-panic nicely. In death we are in life, of course, and the record proceeds to body-moving exhilaration by track two; though builds to the rave-ups are gradual and tasteful (wouldn't want to wake the baby). I love, in particular, "French Pop," a giddy, pliant number with some trebly nursery-tune figures that begs for a remix that'll foreground its fantastic rhythms. But the collection's crown is its 9+ minute closer, "Dadaughter." It's a production that starts snowy baby-blanket white, with pristine blips and incandescent organ glow, then gently swells in perfectly paced stages, gradually gathering color and texture, including some brief buzzy-bleepy spazz-outs. It swells round and rich and ample. It swells human.

Matzak's Myspace.

Dulce et Decorum
Alsace Lorraine

Call For Papers (Ian Catt mix)
- Alsace Lorraine

When he's not making buoyant, sophisticated synth-pop with friends and far-flung associates as Alsace Lorraine, Paul Francke is an Episcopal seminarian. This could explain the cloistered/worldly tension the work projects -- or it could mean nothing much at all. Unless you have Dark One's (buy pre-May 8 street date at Darla) liner notes handy and know that the record hopscotchs some pretty detailed images in the service of elliptical stories-of-a-kind, Alsace Lorraine's lyrics -- whether sung in Francke's dreamy tenor or in the little-girl lisp of Argentinian chanteuse Isol -- are mostly intriguing but incomprehensible tongue utterances.

Yet named after the historically contested patch of European earth (from which, incidentally, my own surname hails and, I'm betting, Francke's), Alsace Lorraine hints at some intellectual heft. And I suppose I should mention (though if you graduated high school in an English-speaking country, you probably already know) that the phrase "dulce et decorum," while original to the scribblings of ancient Rome's Horace, is better known as WWI poet Wilfred Owen's wrenching twist on that old lie about wartime glory. This song, however, doesn't have that kind of grand-scale conflict, but instead appropriates the phrase's connotative aspects for troubles of a more domestic nature (a woman leaving an abusive relationship, I think).
No matter. What counts is the sound-sweep: its swooning soft glamor, its billowy beats and coy false ending, its adolescent ache. D&D is one of my favorite songs so far in 2007.

And Ian Catt's remix of "Call For Papers" (the original also appears on the album) is the most slink-slithery come-hitherish song ever to marshal academic stasis as metaphor for romantic frustration. And while I never thought I'd follow a sentence containing the words "academic stasis" with a declaration like this: It's crazy sexy.

Alsace Lorraine's Myspace.

Isol (Marisol Misenta) is also an illustrator. You can enjoy some of her charming pen n' inks here.


Blogger Tony said...

"dadaughter" is absolutely beautiful. i had no idea electronic music could be this earnest.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Earnest--that's a good way of putting it!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Love that Matzak track. Amazing.

1:06 PM  

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