Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One nu shoe (gaze) in the Friendly Fires of World Peace. Come again!

Rush out and buy these two records today, or do so by the weekend please! First up is the Friendly Fires self-titled, debut album on British label XL. This ten tracker, which is released stateside today, picks up where the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party left off. The band, which is from St. Albans, England, have perhaps ventured the furthest out into the electronic dance music/rock fusion galaxy than any outfit has thus far, and that includes LCD Soundsystem. Members Ed MacFarlane, Jack Savidge, and Edd Gibson craft a sound that is hooky and accessible yet still brimming with lush electronics, driving percussion and an obvious penchant for Prince and Talking Heads.

They also profess a love for the German label Kompakt and the Detroit techno innovator Carl Craig. The opening track, “Jump In The Pool” displays a percussive, dance floor tendency coupled with warm electronic touches that might make one utter the words shoegaze. What about Nu Shu Gaze? Or is there anything new about this considering that bands such as My Bloody Valentine (in SF next Tuesday btw. Oh yeah!) and Slowdive dipped their toes in the warm pool of sound that was early ‘90s electronic dance music? MBV had Weatherall on remixing duties and Slowdive delved into ambient tinged music that hinted at the motor city’s more reflective moments.

However, with Friendly Fires, the day saving pop element is not sacrificed at the feet of innovation, and the Princely predilections of “In The Hospital” will have you in a Raspberry Beret before you can say “I’ve seen the future and it works.” “Paris” is elevated, ascending and joyfully dreamy, while celebrating the possibility of the better things in life — it’s like the sound of Bloc Party in a multi-track pile up with Carl Craig’s mix of Maurizio’s “Domina.” It’s blissful but not brainless or dizzy, euphoric with intellect. Track four “White Diamonds” is similarly compelling, with a punchy bridge, gritty guitar and a churning but uplifting and infectious hook. “Strobe” is downright bloody blissful too, with gorgeous electronic sounds, and beautiful, chiming guitars.

I’m not gonna do a track by track, just get out and check this album, because it’s brimming with talent and transcendent fun. And while you’re scooping it, pick up the killer German compilation, Computer Incarnations For World Peace II on the Berlin based Sonar Kollektiv label. This is volume two of a compilation series, which kicked off with a Baldelli honoring collection of heady tunes for the more thoughtful dance floor. Number two continues the tendency towards brain stimulating rump shakers and features a selection of more recent releases from European and American producers.

You get tunes from L.A. residents Woolfy, and Tony Watson (under his Project Santro guise), and from Euro main stays like Todd Terje, Crazy Penis and Ch√Ęteau Flight. The music itself walks a fine line between tuneful electro, Italo, Cosmic classics, and disco. It’s an unmixed comp, compiled by Frankfurt dj, producer and music journalist Gerd Janson, and its mood is fairly consistent throughout. That mood is groovy, funky, lush and leaning towards the more mid tempo side of things. So it’s great warm up or cool down music, and you should go get it. 


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