and now for me second entry of the songs that spoke to me most in 2009.
Animal Collective – My Girls
time for original hour… i remember the first time i heard my girls. i had recently been talking to a friend about how much i had, belatedly i might add, grown to love the fleet foxes album. he was not as impressed as i was – being a big fan of the beach boys he felt this particular band’s attempts at harmony and lightness was contrived and derivative. we agreed to disagree. in mid-january, as i walked towards dundrum town centre to get my eyes tested, i was listening to a leak of merriweather post pavilion and i was so stunned by the album’s second track that i actually couldn’t listen any further. my first instinct was to text my friend, telling him that whatever about fleet foxes, animal collective were the natural, 21st century successors to brian wilson and co. unlike many reviewers/ bloggers/commentators, i don’t care much for the song’s lyrics. it’s not that i don’t appreciate or understand them, rather that the sheer sonic assault is so overwhelming that they could be singing incoherent nonsense (not that they’d ever do that) and the overall effect would be the same. given the difficulty i’ve had listening to animal collective over the years, this was like a breath of fresh air. an unashamed ‘pop’ song with a realistic tangible lyrical theme, especially given the timing of the release, it almost seems to stand outside of their entire oeuvre to date. but hey, they’ve earned that. in some sort of cyclical conclusion, i bought the album on the same day that i picked up my glasses. go figure.
Michel Cleis – La Mezcla
i was put on to this one by my man bushy – he’s a dude from philly who’s had a more exciting life than everyone i know put together, he reps for hip-hop and the eagles but then he djs at pop bars and is obsessed with eric prydz – despite this seemingly disparate palate of interest and influence, he always manages to know what’s what before anyone else. wish dude was making music too. anyway, he alerted me to this beautiful track, 12 beautiful minutes of latin percussion, flute and tribal-esque wailing. it’s a weird one to pin down, i’ve no idea how i could ever categorise it, but that hardly matters. this michel cleis dude is no one-trick pony either – the bould radio slave included not just la mezcla but also cleis’ remixes of baeka and spencer parker on his deep’n’trippy fabric mix – and if it’s good enough for radio slave, well, that says a lot.
Sebastien Tellier – Kilometer (Aeroplane ‘Italo 84’ Remix)
i didn’t really know what to make of this at first. at the start of the year i was enamoured with a-trak‘s take on this song, with his strings and around the world-esque bassline. over the months that followed i found myself drifting towards this slower, darker, more sensuous remix by those belgian proponents of nu-disco (eugh) gave us their own stellar remixes of the shortwave set, friendly fires and grace jones in 2008. this one, well it starts off with this weird sound that makes me think of pipes and engines, over some crackling hi-hats. then comes the bassline, and all of a sudden we hear this flashes of beautifully textured swooshes that hit you in your solar plexus. after that it’s just a dirty, sweaty, swarthy collection of synths, sex noises, and beautiful sonic textures. i have to thank my friend kate aka masonic boom for that phrase – the tweets and forum messages about that song made my summer a hell of a lot more amusing than it would have been otherwise, and when i met her at field day, during aeroplane’s set no less, it was a delight to see this as a work in progress.
UNKLE – Heavy Drug (Surrender Sounds Mix)
it’s kind of bad when a remix package reminds you of how great the original track is. i was first introduced to unkle‘s heavy drug on james lavelle‘s 2009 entry to the global underground series. the first thing i thought was that it reminded me of deep dish‘s mammoth remix of sven väth‘s my name is barbarella. droning and repetitive yet at the same time starkly beautiful, both tracks feature the briefest amount of chordal variation yet in no way suffer because of this. they also both feature stunning breakdowns laden with unuttered vocal expressions – a series of melancholic sounds that call to mind some sort of joyous wailing or anguish-ridden mourning. tonight i purchased the heavy drug remix package and, alas, none of the tracks come close to beating the original, but if nothing else, listening to them reminded me of how much i loved this track, and how much it deserved to be in this ever-so exclusive list 😉
Phoenix – Lisztomania (Classixx Remix)/
Holy Ghost – I Will Come Back (Classixx Acapulco Nights Remix)
this is just too hard to call. i’ve never been as wowed by phoenix in the way that some people have. i don’t really know why, i guess i just haven’t given them the time they no doubt deserve. but this remix, wow. classixx took what was an energetic pop song alluding, i gather, to orgies and fandom and all that malarkey and created a blissed-out slice of disco that is so cool i haven’t ever been able to play it out. believe me, i’ve tried, but it’s just a tad too slow, and it’s one of those few tracks that really deserves to be left alone at its original speed. the reason i mention another song is that i’m not even sure that lisztomania is their best remix. i adore holy ghost!, as is clear i’m sure from my previous list, but something about i will come back left me a little cold. i could never quite put my finger on it, but i just felt that the song was a little flat, that it was missing something. when classixx put their hands on it i found that i didn’t listen to the original for a good four months. it was just too perfect. again with the blissed-out feel, just at a higher bpm, this track is so perfectly titled that, when i made a mix for my girl for her birthday, i played it just after club tropicana. what makes it even better is that when i eventually went back to the original i found that all of my favourite parts of the remix were just elements of the original that classixx had isolated and moved around – much like in that beautiful trio of remixes done by erol alkan in late 2006. if classixx can follow up their 2009 output with something even half as good, we are in for some truly beautiful music.