By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
DISCO'S EXTROVERT IMAGE to the contrary, dance music has often been as much about interiority as exteriority. The intimate beats and voluptuous textures can evoke the small, velvet-lined back room of a hip boîte, and an arrangement's melismatic sweep can capture the emotional upheavals of the people making the music and those who are dancing to it.
No recent club music has delved inward more seductively than the genre scene aficionados dub "microhouse." Merging the abrupt, cut-off musical phrases of laptop glitchmeisters like Oval with the filtered whooshes of techno at its dry-iciest and the warm post-disco thump of Chicago house, the style is the aural equivalent of projecting a minute detail onto a wall-sized canvas--only with the inevitable grainy blur replaced by deeper detail and richer color.
Microhouse's ranking masterpiece is Luomo's Vocalcity, a lustrous tour de force of spacey, spread-out grooves released last year on Frankfurt's Force Tracks label. Now Berliner (and Luomo labelmate) Dub Taylor attempts a similar turn with his debut, Detect. Taylor was born Alex Kruger (he nicked his current moniker from a Forties cowboy-movie sidekick after previously recording as Psychoplasma, Retronic, and Hair.) His music frequently borrows from the overtly jazzy end of deep house, as on "I Can't (...You Know)," which features a strange vocal by one Per Fourier, who sounds like a very drunk Stephin Merritt.
As on Vocalcity, Detect's grooves build slowly and shift gradually, though the feel here is closer to new wave than disco. But the buried beats and yearning Brit-boy vocals of "Something.Sometimes." find Taylor doing a better New Order than the band itself is managing these days, although the song is several minutes too long. The yearning "Sweet Lips" and muffled "Dirty Highways" are sinuous and sexy enough to inspire more action in the bedroom than the dance floor.
But for sustained eroticism, no new house album touches Superlongevity, a mixed compilation on the German label Perlon. This is music so rapturously carnal you get the feeling that the CD's title is a tribute to those who can copulate through its entire two and a half hours. (More likely, it's a clever way to sneak the label's name into its product: SuPERLONgevity.) The grooves get right next to you, and the sucking, clacking, popping, and brushing noises breathe into your ear, from the three-note water-glass tinkle that runs through Markus Nicolai's "Dimbied.Shake" to the eye-popping scratch-noises and sultry spoken Spanish female vocals in Narcotic Syntax's "Merenguerilla." The low-end tones of "Windowshopping," by Baby Ford & Zip--heartbeat pulse, droplets of sub-bass, what sounds like church-bell samples subjected to Black Sabbath-level detuning--offset clipped high hat sweeps and a repeated female chhh. And the undulating piano figure and cathedral door-slam afternoise of Akufen's "The Unexpected Guest" could occupy the background of an Anne Rice novel--or, perhaps more to the point, one by A.N. Roquelaure. You too may never want to see the daylight again.