There are probably many, many people out there who would consider a garage rock band’s attempt to cover Detroit techno classics (often spelled with a “x” on various dodgy compilations) the height of disappearing up their own ass/fruitless attempt to stay relevant by covering non-genre songs a couple of decades past their prime. I am not one of those people.
In fact, I was ecstatic (without actually having taken any “E”). There’s nothing I love more than genre-crossing bands and the music they make. (I’m talking about legitimate jumps here, however. Not like Tommy Lee deciding he’s going to rap. Or Limp Bizkit’s bassist with the weird eyes/hairdo deciding he’s going to make a non-Limp Bizkit album. [Although I can’t hold that last one against him. After all, there’s probably no way to “transcend” being a Limp Bizkit member and all the genre-hopping in the world is never going to measure up against being a contributing member to rock and roll’s anal gland.])
Back to where we were: garage rock near-legends The Dirtbombs kicked out an album of techno covers and I was justifiably ecstatic (see above and also I’m writing in the first person so of course I am correct in being ecstatic). While the album was very definitely hit-and-miss (do we really need a sincere 21-minute cover of Innerzone Orchestra’s Bug in the Bassbin?), their cover of DJ Rolando’s Jaguar is a true hit.
Basically, the Dirtbombs remain true to the source material without sounding like the source material. It’s recognizably Jaguar but all electronica has gone Luddic, reverting the highly-machined workmanship back to a decidedly blue collar thump-and-grind of good old-fashioned drum/bass/guitar. It’s like beating welding robots into plowshares or something, to carry the Detroit metaphor to a conclusion that no one will truly respect (or even “get”) if any amount of thought is applied to it.
Here’s the original for comparison:
It truly is a victory for the working class. (OK. I’m done with that. Cue Mr. Moore’s distorted timeline and some heartrending shots of urban decay juxtaposed with CEOs stepping out of the backs of Lincoln Town Cars.)
This sort of thing needs to happen more often: rock instruments taking on processed electronics. And winning.
That Fucking Tank (whom I’ve thrown words at before) announced (via LeTwit) that they had just recorded a cover of Phuture’s Acid Trax. (The use of “x” here is original and intentional. And singular.[?]) I was duly nonplussed. (At this point, I’m making up my own definition of “non-plussed,” seeing as everyone else seems to think they can Do Exactly That. When I say “nonplussed,” I mean cautiously enthusiastic. Internal cartwheels and such. This is generally better than external cartwheels because of a.) possible collateral damage of computer/kids/pets/groin muscles and b.) because no one else in the tri-state area would give a fuck. Not even collectively. And not even with the holidays right around the corner.)
Hell yes. TFT covering an acid track. If anyone could pay homage to a true club classic in a respectfully over-the-top fashion, it’s this particular set of NY space/math rock merchants. They’ve certainly got the stamina and they definitely have the right attitude (a cocksure blend of stripped-down rock propulsion and an unexpected sense of humour [lol heartily at these song titles]). And away they went into the studio, returning with this epic bit of thunder, entitled Acid Jam.
I’m not sure if licensing issues caused the name change or that That Fucking Tank (composing sentences with this band’s name often makes it sound like you stutter) decided that it had strayed a bit from the source material. TFT didn’t wander far, but it’s definitely more a TFT track than a respectful cover of Phuture’s acid house epic. (Still, I’m also inclined to believe licensing was an issue. Cannot for the life of me find a Youtube video of Acid Trax that doesn’t open up with an ad. This link will at least let you skip whatever it is that’s being pushed after 5 seconds.)
Once again, adore that gloriously Luddic rhythm section, which beats your head into submission the old fashioned way. The way the Amish, TO THIS VERY DAY, build barns, houses and Y2K shelters: with brutal percussion and thick, rounded bass. (And beards. But TFT have parted from the ways of the elders on this last issue.)
Sometimes the best electronic music is the old electronic music. The kind made by honest artists, not with tracky machining, but with humans and strings and amplifiers and drum kits.
(The previous statement is very often false. Sometimes the best music is made with a laptop. But we’ll have plenty of time for that elsewhere on this blog.)