Un-dance revolution
THE OUTSIDER  - Erwin T. Romulo () - November 23, 2007 - 12:00am

It must be one of the great ironies today that the best dance music is made by people who don’t seem to be able to dance very well. In fact the only subgenre under its umbrella — pompously branded as intelligent dance music or IDM — that is actually quite listenable or enjoyable outside of the clubs is music you can’t dance to. Of course, this isn’t an all-encompassing statement but there’s enough to show for it.

Last Friday, electronica collective Local//:e! launched its second compilation to a crowd that was pleased enough to stand still and listen. In tandem with the unveiling of the Nokia’s newest music player, pioneering artists in the local scene like couchLab, DJ Patch, Funk Avy and Rubber Inc. shared the stage with a diverse array of musicians such as lo-fi hero Eggboy, violinist Jay Cayuca and Pinoy Rock founding father Jun Lopito. It’s part of their efforts to expand the audience for electronic music, showcasing the scope and range of the genre. Of course, it makes it all sound so bland, like it’s being co-opted for some charity fundraiser. But the music, for the most part, was anything but.

Titled “The Assembly,” the CD is remarkable for how the usual suspects gamely meet expectations while the newcomers throw up unlikely surprises. Of the latter the most notable are the tracks by first-timers Lady Trinity and Eggboy track. Described in the liner notes as an accidental DJ — largely due to the influence of her hubby, Funk Avy — there’s a certain restraint and assurance in her arrangement of her contribution, Luv Hertz, that’s refreshing to hear. That’s the same quality one gleans from listening to Train from Eggboy (a.k.a. indie wonderboy Diego Mapa). Collaborating with Cambio bandmate Kris Gorra-Dancel, it’s more structured than the rest of the other tracks on the album but doesn’t suffer from any staidness. In fact, it’s a straightforward juxtaposition of essentially upbeat electronics and drum-machine rhythms with Gorra-Dancel’s rather affecting delivery of the lyric. The resignation in her voice is far removed from blues or soul: the simple imagery of the lyrics is sung without much resort to the standard warble and caterwauling to elicit pathos. Much like how the rest of the troupe use the synthetic to discover less obvious sounds to express themselves, she seems to sing the sadness of the train rather than its occupant — the machine rather than the man.

Of the veterans, Travism’s Majestic (The Opulent Rerubadub) can be appreciated for its hedonistic flair and commitment to the club environment that nurtured this kind of music while Funk Avy’s playful approach to even Spartan sections in his track is engaging. But the odd, sci-fi lullabies of Rubber Inc. still enthrall, much like if one was admiring the façade of some alien architecture. Their track Vestibul probably bears some influence from the duo’s recent collaborations with Germany’s Teichmann Brothers, with a much more tempered, strict rhythm to their usually abstract canvases.

Again, perhaps the best compliment one can give the record is that one needn’t dance to appreciate this electronic music’s virtues. Maybe that’s why it’s still standing.


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