Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Late Review: Client Zerox Machine EP

(note: the following review was written ages ago)

Zerox Machine
Loose Talking
Zerox Machine (IDC Mix)
Zerox Machine (Jonny Slut/Atomizermix)
Zerox Machine (Robert Görl Strange Pistol Mix)
Zerox Machine (Club Mix By Covenant)

In a conspicuous break from the purely electronic pallet that colored their previous material Client have gone rock with their spunky version of Adam & The Ant's "Zerox Machine". Sarah Blackwood's vocal delivery reflects a consciousness that one does not expect to find in a run through a genre chestnut as she breaks up the phrasing of the word "copyright" so it becomes "copy, right?" turning the song into a response to the band's detractors that claim they simply imitate. The lyrics also touch upon ideas that Client have explored before such as identity, masking and control which further suggest the band's personal investment and ownership of the song. Despite the familiar lyrical touches the track's producer Youth plots a new course for the band musically as he brings a focus on "live" elements highlighting the work of Client's new bassist Emily Strange, the sharp rhythms of Blur associate Simon Tong's guitar and the machine-free drums laid down for the track. Even with the shift in style it is the theremin synth lead of Client's sonic architect Kate Holmes that brings the track to life during the chorus providing the link between old and new directions for the band.

"Loose Talking" finds the band using a lot more synths as they rework a number of familiar elements into a song that toys with sweet sadness. There are some promising bits but the song fails to follow through making for an unsatisfying listen.

Remixes of covers are always a dicey proposition because the distance from the original source material makes it difficult to find an unique angle but that problem is danced around here as parties from different scenes are given mixing duties. IDC play things straight incorporating much of the original while the confusingly named Jonny Slut/Atomizermix (thus named because they couldn't settle for just listing one alias that he records under) brings stutter edits and an electro flavor to the table. Recruiting D.A.F. member Robert Görl for a mix must have been quite a moment for Client as they list them as a major influence but Görl turns in an oddly unmusical mix that adds a bit of occasional 16th note trance synths to an uninspired beat leaving the affair a lost opportunity. Ultimately it is Covenant that bring the goods with their EBM flavored mix that takes the liberty to ignore much of the original as they form an effective dark dance track.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Late Review: Client Lights Go Out EP

(note: the following review was written some time ago)

Lights Go Out (Single Edit)
Northern Soul
Lights Go Out (Oliver Koletzki & Sebastian Meindl Mix)
Lights Go Out (Basteroid Mix)
Lights Go Out (Spetsnaz Mix)
Lights Go Out (Boosta Mix)

Client use "Lights Go Out" to tell the story of a woman who goes to extreme lengths to win the affection of an undeserving partner she finds herself "guilty of loving". Over the course of the song the narrator offers, in a pop friendly turn, to be the "guilty pleasure" of what we learn in the final verse is a promise breaking lover that forced her to "learn the hard way" that there are "no guarantees". Given the band's recent split with Toast Hawaii/Mute this redefinition of the band's mission statement, first laid out in Client's self-titled song that was their public debut, of "satisfaction guaranteed" suggests meaning for the band outside the song's narration. However as interesting as it is lyrically the song is musically a mishmash of ideas they have explored before. The swinging beat of "Pornography" and the ominous string sound of "Radio" are clearly echoed here but "Lights Go Out" lacks the clarity and melodic vision that was so vivid in Client's earlier material.

"Northern Soul" is better than average b-side fair flair despite noticeably recycling the riff from "Rock And Roll Machine". Really any song that had the audacity to declare "you need a bit of Northern soul" and that they "know the girls to give it" would be worth a listen and fortunately this tune has even more than that to offer.

If the original "Lights Go Out" lacks greatness then the single goes on to prove that a song cannot be saved with a little magic remix dust. Oliver Koletzki & Sebastian Meindl's deconstruction is full of stutter edits and vocals cut from the single version of the song which makes for some interesting moments but it is ultimately less than satisfying. Basteroid and Boosta flavor the song with their own respected arty electro seasonings but achieve uninspired filler at best. Spetsnaz begins his mix with enough promise that there is hope that a François Kevorkian-inspired spin on the song could develop but unfortunately the mix crashes and burns about a minute in quickly devolving into an amateurish mess. All in all it's the least appealing package that Client has assembled to date.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Video: Shinichi Osawa "Star Guitar"

I originally dismissed Shinichi Osawa's cover of "Star Guitar" without hearing it. If an artist covers a hit song as their lead single and they work in the same genre chances are they are hiding their lack of artistic merit and making a blatant cash grab in one swoop. Fortunately Crap For Genius recently reminded me of the cover and while I don't rate it as highly as he does the subtle update of the Chemical Brothers tune works really well taking the song out of the trance genre and shining a spotlight on the nearly hidden vocals of the original:

: The Chemical Brothers based the original song around a short guitar sample from David Bowie's "Starman" and have often performed the song live mashed up with the Brothers cover of New Order's "Temptation" so this really is just adding another layer. Shinichi Osawa's "Star Guitar" is out on CD single this week in the UK on Norman Cook's Southern Fried Records so stop by his myspace to get all the info.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pop! Chart

Erasure are shortly due to finally update their classic singles collection Hits: The Very Best Of Erasure Pop! with the eagerly anticipated Total Pop!: The First 40 Hits. Naturally the two disc collection contains 41 tracks, 39 songs and omits the Union Street single "Boy". It's not all bad because the title suggests an alternate universal where the top 40 charts would be dominated by Erasure tunes. It might look something like this:

1. Oh L'Amour
2. Chains Of Love
3. A Little Respect
4. Blue Savannah
5. Chorus
6. Who Needs Love (Like That)
7. Victim Of Love
8. Drama!
9. Ship Of Fools
10. Breath Of Life
11. Star
12. Love To Hate You
13. Take A Chance On Me
14. Always
15. Am I Right?
16. Sometimes
17. You Surround Me
18. It Doesn't Have To Be
19. Solsbury Hill
20. Rock Me Gently
21. Stop!
22. Breathe
23. Fingers And Thumbs (Cold Summer's Day)
24. The Circus
25. Stay With Me
26. Sunday Girl
27. Freedom
28. Heavenly Action
29. Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me
30. In My Arms
31. Here I Go Impossible Again
32. Rain
33. Run To The Sun
34. I Could Fall In Love With You
35. Don't Say You Love Me
36. Moon And The Sky
37. I Love Saturday
38. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
39. Storm In A Teacup

: If we were to group those singles by the albums they were taken from and assigned a value of 39 to the highest ranked single and 1 to the lowest ranked then we would end up with a chart like this:

: Overall this indicates a slight drop off in amazingess in the I Say I Say I Say era which was Erasure's first album following the original Pop!. It is also worth noting that 85% of my top 20 appear on that first compillation despite my continuing to follow the duo after the general public lost their scent making this new greatest hits useless to all but the most dedicated fans. Still stop by Erasure's myspace to hear some flawless tunes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro

Electronic legend Florian Schneider recent announced his departure from Kraftwerk. When I saw the band play in San Francisco a few years ago it was almost a religious passage for the fans of techno, hip hop, synthpop and all things electronic who witnessed the show. Fortunately it was captured on film:

Monday, January 12, 2009

On The Radio

Freezepop just chatted with NPR's "All Things Considered" about being unapologetic in their pop, the paradigm shift in video game music and revealed that the lyrics to "Pop Music Is Not A Crime" were written while Liz was on jury duty. Listen the next time you've got a spare few minutes to get an insight to the band's personality.