Little Red Blogger

This blog looks at radical politics(with a libertarian socialist slant), music and culture. Marx to Mises, Girls Aloud to Steve Reich...

Location: Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Review: Vitalic - OK Cowboy

Finally a music post! am trying to keep this blog balanced but it's hard sometimes, anyway let's get on with this review!

Vitalic are products of the French club scene and like Daft Punk, Motorbass and Cassius before them they are here to do one thing: make you dance. Vitalic unlike say Daft Punk are not disco and chicago house obsessives. Vitalic's touchstones are 80's synthpop, house, classic electro, Moroder and Kraftwerk mixed with late 70's Bowie. Vitalic originated in and around the Electroclash scene, surved it's demise while carrying on in a similar vein.

As Simon Reynolds pointed out in his interview with LCD Soundsystem dance music is currently between 'big things' and like rock music in the 80's looks to combine and re-combine various different elements of dance musics past. To invoke that crusty old literary critic Leavis dance music is in canonical phase with artists like Vitalic trying to innovate knowing the sheer weight of previous music can both inhibit and free them to make better music.

But what of the album itself? It starts off fantastically reminding me very much of prime mid-seventies Kraftwerk with naive analogue synths puttering away making me think of retro futures past backed up by some kind of bizarre teutonic oompah beat. The next track 'Poney part 1' is pure dancefloor funktionalism with sweeping filters, hard jacking teutonic kicks and Vitalic's cracked processed voice jutting through the mix.

The relentless build and breakdown on this track are simple yet very effective and designed to do maximum carnage on the dancefloor. This track and others on the album like 'No Fun' do showcase an interesting side of Vitalic's music, the rock like attack mid-frequency blare and general lack of digital cleanliness to his music. This is made even more explicit in 'My Friend Dario' where Vitalic deploys actual riffing rock guitars along side a programmed rock n' roll back beat. As Silver Dollar says it's interesting to see where scene's end up sometimes..

This sonic dirt and detritus is there even in the most beautiful tracks of the album with overdriven synths all over the shop from 'Wooo's' heavily swung schaeffel beat and child like melodies. 'La Rock no 1' what more can you say, with filtered step sequencers playing off martial electro kicks, utilising that classic noisy Vitalic build-up and breakdown. The first Vitalic track I'd ever heard and a good introduction to his sound.

Vitalic can do more than dancefloor bangers as is evidenced by tracks like 'Trahison' and the beautiful 'The Past' with it's subtle beautiful use of vocoders and retro synth sounds evoking futures that never came to be.

This album is thee essential dance album of the year so far, better than Daft Punk, M.I.A et al, do Vitalic a favour and pick up his album on April 25th.