Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Streaks - The Feeling (Post Rave Dub)
House is a feeling, but which one? This ace track has a swarm of different divas, male and female, assuring me with drunkenly desirous whispers that “it’s just a feeling”, trying unsuccessfully to contain, limit, laugh away the inescapable plurality of emotions the groove inspires. For such a familiar concoction, “The Feeling (Post Rave Dub)” does a remarkable job at astonishing me with its covalent internal relationships of longing and loss, communion and alienation. To be lost inside a groove is to know intimately a sort of amnesia: remembering nothing, and hence hearing everything for the first time. To be found inside a groove is to experience a bodily premonition, recognising the groove before it emerges from the speakers such that when the beat arrives your feet are already in place, pulsing with the anticipation of coming home. The best dance music is that which evokes both experiences at once: “house is a feeling”, or rather a chain of feelings, of interconnected but never identical sensations we recognise but don’t remember.

Go past this waffly but heartfelt pseudo-poetry and you hear a collection of neat sonic tricks at work. Woozy Isolee chords in a minor key. A perfect, gloriously loose beat swivelling and swishing disturbingly like satin rustling against bare hips. Spare spiderwebs of Chic guitar tracing out narratives of dancefloor romance. And slow, squelchy bass riffs oozing with a delicate lassitude from every corner, such that this sounds much slower than it is, engorged with its own dubbed-out maximalism and light-headed from all that blood. Lifting away this delicious rubble, the track hits the deepest point in its topography, those eerie atmospheric synths again, around and through which a moist garage rhythm is dovetailing voluptuously, the whole track shivering with tentative cracks of the beat from which the entire arrangement recoils.

And out of this no man’s land arrives a surprisingly natural live-sounding funk bassline, tugging you gently back home, and that comforting line again, “It’s just a feeling”. Comfort is the great strength and weakness of deep house, New York garage, all those sophisticated American brands of house that are so easy to dismiss as trad and boring. Comfort becomes a weakness because it so often arrives as a meaningless surplus – exactly what is an album’s worth of opulently reassuring Naked Music tracks saving me from? The secret to this track’s appeal is that it fills in the other half of the equation. Not with danger – we’re hardly talking Green Velvet here – but rather with a profound and slightly unnerving openness, a willingness to look outside its grooves and survey the sonic opportunities, to allow for the possibility that one day we might have soulful mainstream house in which anything might happen.

(if ur interested, you can hear this on Mei Lwun’s Uno Records, which has found itself in the unlikely position of being probably my favourite album of the year)


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