Friday 14 August 2020

What I've Misplaced (But Never Lost)

A couple of mis-clicks on my Spotify sent me on an unscheduled trip down memory lane, specifically a roundup of my most listened to of 2017. And really, not a lot has changed. There's a big smattering of pop punk in there as I was deep in making my "Non-Electronic Nostalgia" playlist but otherwise it's still identifiably Van Foxbat™. Still, there's some stuff that I picked up around the time and has been buried that these kind of playlists do a really good job of digging up, so I thought I'd rundown some of them today.

Roy Lichtenstein - Interior with Waterlilies (1991)

First on the bill is DMX Krew, I found this one completely by accident, it's an oft-overlooked b-side that wasn't available on early digital versions if I recall correctly. It's at odds with all the other DMX Krew productions I've posted so far too, there's no Funk or ironic retro electronic sensibilities to grin at here, instead December Darkness is out and out no-nonsense Deep House and I absolutely adore it. I remembered doing so and wondered if I would still like it as much, I was on a bit of a deep house kick at the time and was kind of obsessed with some Juno-60 demos by some blokes on youtube that sounded a bit like this but with more pitch bends. I am happy to report that is the case, the intro alone had me falling all over again, and the layering of different elements throughout is just fantastic.

Visiting old flames of mine Kittin & Hacker next, after a long quiet they came out with two EPs in 2015 fittingly called Lost Tracks, salvaged demos and half finished songs from the First Album era is my understanding. If you're a fan of the stripped electronics on parts of that album you will find a lot to love here, my favourite being track 1, Leather Forever. Hacker's production is on point here, not too minimal and complimenting Kittin's vocals incredibly well, the synth surges on the choruses might be some of my favourite things he's ever done. Likewise Kittin is on it as usual, she's very firmly in the electroclash style on this one: Stoic, almost disinterested delivery. Slightly melodic while still bordering on monotone, and of course hints of her French accent now and then. While it is very much a cliché of the genre by now, Kittin does it brilliantly (and not for a lack of singing talent, as we've seen on her other works).

Another thing I really like about this track in particular is the inclusion of Fetish and Kink, I'm honestly surprised that given the standard Electroclash output it's not more prominent, doubly so given that Kittin used to do live shows of this era in Nurse outfits (as seen on the cover of First Album) and leather dresses. It's an aesthetic that suits the music very well, and while there are a few other acts that have dabbled in that imagery I'd still say it's slightly rare which is unfortunate.

Finally, a very early relic of the 'tunes you pick up on a compilation and never hear of again' category, more on that in a minute. Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau is a solid (if slightly dated) compilation centered around the idea of a bunch of artists of the time taking on that Disco sound in their own way, and there are some big names on there: Susumu Yokota, ADULT. and even DMX Krew as mentioned above. Some of it is very of-the-era, but as you all might know that early 00's techy new wave revival is very much my scene. I've talked about a couple of tracks from this comp before (the ADULT. track in particular is especially strong), but there are more than a few I've forgotten about.

Enter Memory Boy, an alias of John Selway, only ever used for a small handful of remixes and for this track (There Is No) Electricity, which is tucked away at the very end of this compilation. I'd never heard of it outside of this compilation, though Discogs tells me it appeared on a bunch of other compilations including a Dr. Lektroluv one that I'd also forgotten about. This strikes me as odd because in all my electroclash excursions I can't believe I'd never encountered it, it ticks all my boxes for that new-wave revival sound I was talking about a minute ago and is absolutely at home on a compilation based on (then) modern takes on Disco. I'm not a fan of the fade-out to a field recording of a city but otherwise I have no complaints: slightly treated vocals and slick retro electro sounds should have told you that already!

I hope you enjoyed this return to our usual MO of output, it was a lot of fun opening the box of old and having plenty of "Oh man, I remember this!" moments. I might have to 'accidentally' take a few other trips into older playlists and see if there's anything else I've forgotten, missed or otherwise not picked up over the years, I'll be sure to share the results of my digital archaeology here!

As always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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