In 2011, Blondes released three 12-inches that ostensibly explored dualities: Lover/Hater, Business/Pleasure and Wine/Water. Whether or not one side conforms to a listener’s ideas or sense of, say, business, while the other evokes something in the spectrum of pleasure seems to me to be a matter of chance as regards most of these tracks. I guess they could simply be taken as Blondes’ evocations of the title entities, which seems fair, and avoids any long and endless consideration of the universality of the relations between sounds and emotions, what is culturally learned and what transcends culture. Obviously, that is a foggy, but fascinating, territory to be wandered into at another time altogether, but, if nothing else, the breaking up of tracks by way of binary titles, without any other words attached or in them that would lend any other clues about what we are supposed to feel about them, rather simply begs a reflection on how vast and full of nameless sensations, which we can interpret into only a limited number of named moods, feelings or emotions, the world of music and sound is.
That upfront digression may be more interesting than what follows, as writing about Blondes’ linear, spacey tracks is unlikely to bear anything that would further catalyze them, and placing them in relation to the hipster house, or any such scene that seems to lie on the periphery of dance culture, underground or otherwise, may bore even me by the time I am done writing it. I am going to write it, something of it, in any case, but first I am going to point out that Blondes two-disc set for RVNG Intl. collects those three duality-themed 12-inches on the first disc and adds another pair to them: Gold/Bronze. The second disc is stacked with remixes representing a wide and varied array of producers, many of whom seem keen to keep one foot in the world of clubs and one in the living rooms of connoisseurs of esoteric and ecstatic sounds and experiences of sounds.
So, hipster house, whatever exactly we want that to be. Let’s say that when I think of that label in a good way its representative would be Daniel Martin McCormick’s Ital project, and that what I find operating in his music that is most exciting are simultaneous tendencies to both mimic early house music and to introduce some intoxication of dysfunctionality into it, in whatever way seems at that moment appropriate. A lot of other producers who have released records on 100% Silk are doing something similar, but the Ital records take it the furthest. Blondes’ music is much more polite, more beachfront bikinis than sweat-soaked under garments. Their first EP, Touched, was marked by slow bpms, cosmic vibrations, and sunshine that wrestled with endorphins and, occasionally, shadow. It aims to entrance, as does their more current work, though now the bpms are jacked up, the bass is heavier, and the enticement to dance, also known as functionality, more overt.
There is a whole lot of music on these two discs. Listening all the way through is not something that particularly appeals to me, unless I am doing something else – the originals are excellent music to work to, as I often heard said of the first record by The Field – but I imagine this would be a great set for a DJ, who is willing to play CDs, to have, as it provides a wide variety of different moods and, on the remix disc, styles. Favorites: the dubby, loved-up tunnel vision of “Water,” “Lover,” with its wild Meredith Monk vocal sample (which always reminds me of the chanting on Tom Tom Club’s “Wordy Rappinghood”), and the very appropriately titled euphoria of “Pleasure.” All of the Blondes tracks strike me as very busily psychedelic house music that is not without restraint, at once bouncy enough to get bodies moving and designed to send you down a wormhole in some off corner of your brain. If you aren’t inclined to do that, well… Of the remixes, I most like Andy Stott’s re-imagining of “Pleasure” as an industrial wasteland of slow-motion house grinding out the apocalypse hours in a club that exists thus far only in my imagination, Teengirl Fantasy’s half-wasted, half-awake and piano-led take on “Wine,” the claustrophobic repetition chamber that is Laurel Halo’s mix of “Gold,” the very psychedelic and very unrelenting visceralization of “Lover” by JD Twich of Optimo fame, and Dungeon Acid’s blissful and, yes, acidic take of the same track.
You could think about this record as a whole lot of conscious and unconscious musical ideas of the words lover, hater, business, pleasure, water, wine, bronze, and gold, and I wouldn’t be completely surprised if in doing so you, at least once or twice, found something worth keeping and using for a while.
Teengirl Fantasy – 7AM
John Talabot – fIN
The Field – Looping State of Mind
Stream: Blondes – “Wine”