17 December 2006
Jason Forrest – Lady Fantasy E.P. (Sonig)
Forrest returns to the top 50, and I have placed the EP over his full-length. This is mainly because I prefer the crazier end of dancey music in short bursts, otherwise I fatigue off it. I don’t think I’m alone either; people often respond to Best Dance Album lists with ‘well, dance is about singles’. I agree, really. I mean, look at The Prodigy. ‘No Good’, ‘Poison’, ‘Firestarter’ and stuff. Great singles. But am I going to listen to their albums? Nope. And …Jilted Generation is one of the better dance albums out there.
I really like Underworld’s Second Toughest in the Infants, but I rarely listen to it. I can listen to singles like ‘Pearl’s Girl’ and ‘Dirty Epic’ anytime though. And so it is with this. Albums by Forrest, Kid606 or what have you are all well and good, but have more impact in single or EP form: every song can be different to the last, it’s more conducive to memory, and there is less danger of filler.
‘Sperry and Foil’ clocks in at the pretty epic length of eight minutes but, unlike the aforementioned Underworld did so often, it never quite feels truly epic. The key hook, a rather splendid little descending synth melody, spends its time battling the prevailing glitchizm, occasionally bubbling to the surface. The reason why this works a tad better than, say, General Patton vs. The X-Ecutioners, is because these melodic ‘hope spots’ last long enough to actually settle in and provide some form of dynamic counterpoint to the general bleeblaabloo stuff. I say it wasn’t particularly epic, but there is a magnificent sequence near the end where some proper noise builds up, and up, and up, until exploding into the melody, revitalised. Love it.
Shorter though the other three tracks are, they don’t let the side down. I think I have the track order wrong, but the eponymous song takes a leaf out of Prefuse73’s book, as the clipped loops recur as though it’s accidental record skipping. Rarely one to lean on a single idea too hard, some cartoon music reminiscent of the Fantômas record briefly punctuates the staccato. Essentially an extended intro, the main sample returns before the track ends.
So the primary form here is that ADD-simulating style with constant, and radical, changes. It’s the ilk that a lot of the Tigerbeat6 crew (as of about 2002, when I was last paying attention), Tobin and many Metallers – Soilent Green, Dillinger Escape Plan etc – espouse and, while it’s been going on for the last decade or so (obviously the Warpy likes of Aphex and Squarepusher predate this, but I feel this hi-def American strain is a particularly valid school of its own. It has a sense of dayglo fun, rather than some kind of smarmy ‘look what I can do’ delivery that some of the Brits have been guilty of at times), it is still a pretty major underground mode of musical currency.
Times do finally seem to be changing, both in the worlds of guitar and ‘electronica’. But until Dubstep really takes off (which it probably will, as it’s already got more mainstream press than Grime ever did. And Dizzee doesn’t count – the excitement over him served to divorce him from the context of Grime, if anything), and sunnO))) stop being The Metal Band For People Wot Don’t Like Metal, the slowness won’t quite render Zorn/Patton/tigerwarpcore all that dated. Maybe it’s because the constant changes within the music itself maintain the shock of the new, providing continuous stimuli, ergo preventing ageing. Or something. I suppose the nods to Krautrock (both by Forrest’s admission and the sampling of Neu!) capture something of a retro-zeitgeist, but I might be making things up at this point.
Speaking of Tigerbeat6, ‘The Lure of You’ sounds like something off a label sampler I got a few years ago, specifically ‘Interspecies Love’ by Kevin Blechdom. It’s a charming pop nugget, interspersed with acoustic guitar. I’ll have to check out Italian singer/songwriter Margareth Kammerer, who sung on and apparently co-wrote the song. It leads nicely (on my copy) into the quite exquisite ‘The Work Ahead of Us’, co-written with David Grubbs. Superficially comparable to Radiohead’s ‘Treefingers’ in its stretched-out languidity, it breathes beautiful tones into your ears. While the Kid A track is about the guitar tone being extended and played with, the motivating sonic on this track seems to be a female vocal (though who knows what it started out as). With keyboard textures adding an ominous air to the song, it is also more dramatic.
Perhaps Slo-core is where it’s at after all.