Friday, 6 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #7 - Various Artists, "Horse Meat Disco III"

I'm stepping out into another shadowy territory - Partyland - with only a disco compilation to guide me and a sense of frustrated appreciation to fuel my facile observations.

This is disco music (as the title might suggest) with sizeable shiny chunks of Eighties house music embedded like jewels on a studded, gloved fist. Or pigs' teeth in bacon. Something in this combination means I'm kept slightly withdrawn from the rush.

I'm not sure where the Otherness sits. If I was Simon Reynolds, I'd be able to draw the structure out, highlight the relevant trends and what they represent socio-economically, sketch out the rhyzome. I lack the vocab and I lack the skills.

So there are noises like early house music, which is a good thing, an exciting thing. Maybe a glimpse at the chain of moments in the early Eighties when random genomic spurs began to mutate disco into house and techno. But there's not the tension that first drew me into those tracks. Stuff like Nitro Deluxe's "Let's Get Brutal" or classic Todd Terry or Stakker's "Humanoid" dragged me mumbling and stumbling into music in the first place. I felt that music bully it's way inside me, shout in my head and rattle my toes. But why does it matter that this isn't that?

Maybe these tunes are too celebratory, the narcissism is too joyous? I want moody, anti-social machinemusik - 'Ardcore, breaks, Acid House, Meat Beat Manifesto. I imagine myself watching other people dance, other people giving themselves away and pirouetting and making connections on the floor. Maybe it's an equivalent of the hyper-masculinity that Reynolds hears in hip-hop, especially its less-moneyed early years, that I listen for in my dance music. It certainly feels as though there's a sexual dimension to "Horse Meat Disco", within my reaction to these tunes. It makes me feel like I'm amongst happy, beautiful people; but not belonging.

And it sounds so good. They're having a great time.

Part of the buzz is hearing noises from my teenhood. Billie Ray Martin (herself sweeping in from the late Eighties of my imagination) pumps me a fist or two into the nostalgia gland, her "Sweet Suburban Disco" making all the right squelchy synth noises and synthetic handclaps; putting me in mind of my sweet suburban past. "U Rock My World" by Glimmers tries to draw me into the water by including Kirsty MacColl's karate "Hai-ya!" from the Madchester Rave On EP. The hooks are out.

And there's a broad sweep across a few styles. Sylvester's "Stars" is full-on affirmative glittering monster of a tune. There's some more romantic, swirling sounds too - like "Lovemaker" by the confusingly-named Wham. There's stuff that sounds like the strangely breezy tunes on the "Scarface" soundtrack. And some harder and more confusing stuff like Fuzz Against Junk and Mungolian Jetset.

So maybe when I feel there are enough beautiful people around to appreciate it, I'll stick it on again.

Rating: Stepping out of My Comfort Zone

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