Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Berghain vol 4" compiled by Ben Klock; Ladytron, "Live at London Astoria 16-07-08"

This is an excerpt from the release notes to "Berghain vol. 4": "Literally, Ben Klock's debut mixed CD is a cornucopia of new, unreleased and exclusive pieces. Without any sign of hectic or nervous breaks, but not without thrilling moments, peaks or valleys, turning points ..."

It's true that there are no sign of hectic or nervous breaks -- technically, it's a very well mixed CD. But of course there's shouldn't be any abrupt, nervous, or sudden breaks, it's a mix CD. That's a basic requirement. The fact that they felt the need to advertise this is unusual, it's as if they're saying "give the mix a chance, don't be put off by how slick and smooth this is, it's not completely on an even keel, there are peaks and valleys here too". (and they shouldn't have to advertise that either -- it's a mix CD, of course there should be some sort of rise and fall as part of its flow)

So the release notes basically tell us nothing interesting. Unfortunately, much the same can be said about the mix. Yes, it's well mixed, but no, it's very much without thrilling moments, peaks, and valleys. It starts slowly, reaches a mild plateau about 10 minutes in (during Marcel Dettman's remix of Junior Boys), but never moves on from there, never letting loose like great mixes should. The two Ben Klock tracks in the second half are arguably the highlight, so in the big picture this isn't much of a setback because he's still a fantastic producer and on a great DJ in most instances. This just wasn't one of those instances.

This is the second time this week where a mix really let me down (the other was Shed's RA podcast) and all of 2010 feels like a down year for great mixes. Only Donnacha Costello has been consistently overachieving. Speaking of which, get yourself to the Electric Deluxe podcast (which might be the best podcast around these days) and grab Costello's latest effort.

Ladytron's self-released live album is taken from a London gig just before the release of "Velocifero". The band comes off as exceptionally focused and determined to show off their new songs, but despite the strong start, they start running out of gas in the second half. The energy slowly drains away until the final track before the encore ("Last One Standing"), where they take their stand and gamely give it whatever they have in reserve. They had nothing left for the encore, but overall the night was a success.

The encore was "Klevta"/"Burning Up"/"Destroy Everything You Touch", so be warned -- if you buy this expecting to get blown away by this mouth-watering encore (on paper), you'll be disappointed. So let's forget about this gig and just talk about "Burning Up". Maybe we can agree that "Burning Up" is one of the best goth songs ever recorded? Especially the lyrics -- what more could you possibly ask for from goth lyrics? Just look at this monster of a chorus:

I set myself on fire without you
I wrote a protest song about you
That not a soul was meant to hear, except you

I mean, it's ALL there ... "I set myself on fire without you" ... an overemotional, melodramatic reaction to a fairly trivial thing. Very serious, very goth. It fully captures the pain and hopelessness of desiring another human being. And of course there's fire motif. No goth song can be without it.

"I wrote a protest song about you" ... I sat in my room and composed something that was dedicated to you and you only, I invoked your name and bared my soul from the emotions it stirred in me. The fact that the composition was a protest song only amplifies the OTTness that is essential in a proper teenage goth drama. Goths are anathema to politics, when was the last time you saw hundreds of goths marching in the street? She wrote a fairly innocuous concoction that felt like a rebellion (in her soul) but is really nothing more than a silly little poem.

"That not a soul was meant to hear, except you" ... this is the key line, the betrayal, the world now collapses because he showed that silly little poem to someone else. Listen to how Helen Marnie sings the word "soul" on the studio recording (on the live album she's too exhausted and blows the emphasis on the syllable), it's acerbic, haunting, I feel like repenting just hearing it sung, there can be no mistake that this was supposed to be a SECRET that NO ONE was to know about.

No comments: