Ha ha that last post was really unformed wasn't it? Sorry, I had to rush off to work at the time but I wanted to post something
so as to keep myself regular-like.
Currently listening to Green Velvet's Whatever
for the first time(s) (my year-long fear of import prices paid off as now I have an Australian release review copy with a bonus disc). It's an odd - if predictably invigorating - listen, at least coming to it from the angle of first single and first track "La La Land", which I've loved for what seems like forever. "La La Land" is in some ways a throwback to "Answering Machine" et. al - funny, a bit camp but most importantly groovy
, its buzzy loop tearing through the brain so deliciously
, its beats stomping so convulsively. It's undeniably 'house', especially when you hear it in a house set snuggling up to something like, I dunno, The Ones' "Flawless" or something. In fact I think a case could be made for "La La Land" being Green Velvet's ultimate dance anthem, with all his appealing attributes boiled'n'pared down to a ripsnorter of mammoth minimalism, effect and addiction.
In contrast, much of the rest of Whatever
is Green Velvet at his most dry and dessicated, with every last fleeting remnant of house's fleshy succulence hunted down and eradicated. It's not that there's been any radical breaks with the backcatalogue; rather, roughly half of Whatever
feels like the culmination of a series of gradual and very slight repositionings that began with the hints of post-punk moodiness that began to creep into Jones' late nineties' tracks. The transition seems complete here, or at least it seems to have arrived at some plateau of completeness: "Genedefekt" is bleepy, bouncing drama-pop along the lines of "La La Land", but it's much more nervous and shrill - house so wired that it's not house anymore. In fact this is as much like the early industrial-pop of Nitzer Ebb and their ilk (it goes without saying that Jones could have easily and perfectly scored The Living End
) as it is house music of any sort.
There's a certain flashy self-directed misanthropy at work that informs both Jones's charged performances and the harsh texture of the grooves, and both make me feel like he's going to work on me (my ears; my body) with a wad of steel wool. Add to this the surprising stridency of the lyrics, which on Genedefekt
decry the use of drugs to sedate a generation of freaks and dissidents with a gallows humour severity, and it seems like Green Velvet is ever-so-slowly tip-toeing out of dance hedonism altogether. Even more blatant are the militant chants of "Stop Lyin'" and "Gat" - "Stop lying! Speak the truth!" and "This is not a fucking phase! Stop fucking with me!" respectively. The latter abandons the house beat almost completely in favour of a gabba-esque snare rush, funkless and mindless in its destructive release of energy.
I'm not sure whether the more typical Green Velvet torture-house grooves that make up about half of the album are disappointing or relieving - yes it's worth noting that Jones has been working this patch for almost ten years (but when you've got a shtick this good, why wouldn't you?), but at the same time these concessions to danceability, dark and harrowing in isolation, provide a small measure of comfort within the context of this more flagellant collection. It's this perspective shift that makes Whatever
a worthwhile companion to Green Velvet's nineties round-up compilation (The Nineties
, duh) - we're now at least one step closer to understanding the evil genius of the king.