Friday, June 06, 2008

Jeanette Winterson likes French disco-house

Jeez I'm a lazy bum. A week without posts. And it's not like there's nothing going on but, er, I got this new HD television set, you see, and I wasted way too much time not watching it, no, but trying to figure out how to hook up the DVD player and cleaning up the sudden abundance of extra channels—all over the air since we don't have cable (this HD business is going to be bad news for cable companies, weeding out at least the customers who subscribe mostly for the improved reception). Pathetic, I know.

I did manage to go back to Passing Strange, and was struck again by how smart, how moving that show is, and how good Stew's songs are. If you insist on spending some of your dollars on Broadway, go see it. Well, that and Gypsy for old-school pizzazz.

Elsewhere, Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, AM Homes and Jackie Kay illustrate the Musketeers' motto (at least according to Dumas) of "one for all, all for one"by collaborating on a 52, a novel in installments for the Guardian. This is scheduled to go on for a year, as the title suggests, with the four authors taking turns writing chapters—but not revealing who wrote what. A paragraph like "Merrie England in the month of May: Cuckoo, cowslips, the sun early and shallow-rimmed as it rises, the deep dew at dawn, as though the planet were still damp from its making." reads very Wintersonesque to me. Or like one of the other three poking fun at the style of Winterson, who initiated the idea. (In any case, do read Winterson's monthly column on her website, it's a hoot.)

And finally, my current musical obsession, and a perfect illustration of how the right remix can turn lead into gold. Actually the Whitest Boy Alive's "Golden Cage" isn't quite lead because its frontman is Erland Øye, whom I actually like. But that song's just blah limp funk, an indie version of Liquid Liquid. It ambles along with an utter lack of a point as Øye sings his prettily wistful and fairly unremarkable lyrics.

But a few weeks ago—and a couple of years after "Golden Cage" was released—Fred Falke (often working with Alan Braxe but here operating on his own) released a remix that turns the track into a fantabulous disco-house summer hit. First of all, the overall vibe feels springier and more energetic without losing a certain melancholy undertow. Second, Falke's treated Øye's vocals, adding a faint echo that makes them feel more distant (and provides the aforementioned melancholy). Third, he's added at least a trio of distinct killer synth hooks; I mean, most songs would be happy to have just one, but Falke's thrown them all into the pot. Fourth, the occasional vocoder effect is not so much electroclash as weirdly 70s proggy, as if suddenly a bit from Alan Parsons Project or late ELO had been imported in.

Compare and contrast:
The Whitest Boy Alive: "Golden Cage"
The Whitest Boy Alive: "Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)"

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