Monday, December 06, 2004
Like everyone else it seems, I love love love the Jacques Lu Cont remix of Gwen's "What Ya Waitin' For", mostly because it flashes back to the magical time just pre electroclash's actual takeover when it seemed like 80s revivalism would manifest itself in the form of big dance hits that were actually huge soppy emotional epics (Cosmos's "Take Me With You" being the shining paragon 4-eva). It's all here in spades: those enormous, skyscraping synth refrains that just seem to swallow the song up in their generous embrace. The marvellously meticulous clicking and snapping percussion. That churning bass. The way Gwen's vocals feel transformed from enjoyably hysterical self-parody into some sort of absurdly over the top poltergeist. Not to mention that the opening tick-tocks remind me of Disco Inferno's "The Last Dance" (aka best track ever). (Update: Felix Da Housecat played the remix as his opening track when I saw him the other night and the crowd went wild, although whether it was because of the track itself or just Felix I'm not sure).

There's a genealogy of these tracks that you can trace right up to Gwen's contribution, and it stares back across at the blank and arch end of electroclash (most obv example Ladytron's "Seventeen") with a look of innocent, questioning pity on its face, like Jesus saying "forgive them father, for they know not what they do." The Cosmos tune of course, Daft Punk's "Digital Love", Basement Jaxx's "Romeo", Linus Loves' "Stand Back", Mylo's "Wolves of Miami"... Mylo's practically built his entire rep around pimping for this sound, and he gets a lot of stick for it, but rediscovering his remix of "Stand Back" (which is like a nuclear meltdown of tweeness, it may as well be an extended mix of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time") I can't help but adore its fierce purity, its insistence that dance music can be unselfconsciously silly and naff and uplifting like nothing since primo handbag house.

The other track which has carried the torch for this sort of open-hearted emotionalism in house in the 04 is The Knife's "Heartbeats (Rex the Dog Mix)", which by now you should all know. Even more than "What You Waitin' For", "Heartbeats" is just impossibly huge, a gaseous explosion rushing up to burst through the ceiling. Rex can't take all the credit for this: the hopelessly seductive anthemism of this track is already present in the steely electro-goth-pop original, with enormous synthesiser refrains swirling around a Teutonic declaration of undying fidelity.

To this Rex adds a stomping 4/4 house beat, but more important is what he takes away, fracturing the verses into deliberately interminable stretches of glitchy fx, static and stuttering vocal cut-ups, an act of privation and sobriety that understands intimately the economy of desire. The Knife's chorus is so perfectly seductive, so immensely satisfying, that the only tactic Rex can pursue to improve it is to stoke higer and higher the listener's burning need to hear it again, again, again. It's like a reversal of that long beatless stretch in "One More Time" - both tracks hinge upon an artificialy elongated severance of dancefloor energy and pop release in order to make the eventual unification that much sweeter. "One More Time" is of course amazing on the dancefloor; I've yet to test "Heartbeats" in the same manner but I keenly look forward to the chance to do so.


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