Electronic music and questionable equestrian imagery seem to go together. European electro-techno virtuoso Vitalic had the legendary "Poney EP." There's the German trio International Pony, which included Kompakt techno star DJ Koze. In the dark-horse category, there was "Acid Horse," a collaboration between Cabaret Voltaire and Ministry, and Coil's "Horse Rotorvator." Colourbox, which became M/A/R/R/S, had a track called "Looks Like We're Shy One Horse." And the Avalanches stitched their goofy single "Frontier Psychiatrist" together with samples of a horse neighing. What gives?
Caro, also known as Seattle dance-music producer and Orac label head Randy Jones, has a bit of a, shall we say, fixation with the subject. The album cover of The Return of Caro is a black-and-white photograph of Jones on a horse, staring blankly into the distance, and the pinkish-purple CD is inscribed "To all the dancing ponies--love, Caro."
Creeped out yet? The signature track is "My Little Pony," which is probably not about your favorite childhood toy. Over a lurching bassline and a clomping dance beat, Jones, his voice processed to sound like he's just had a tracheotomy, hisses "My little pony...dance all night pony...I love the way you shake your head...I love the way you shake your tail...." Then his lecherous Darth Vader voice breaks down, and he orders, "Shake!" "Work!" It'd be nightmarish if it weren't so damn funny--and funky. As it is, it sounds a little like the more paranoid reaches of the work of Berlin-based über-producer Ricardo Villalobos, combined with the spirit of old Chicago house tracks that issued blunt commands like "Move your body."
The comparison to Chicago inches a step further into full-on homage on the ten-minute opus "My Little Castle." Eerie synth squiggles and queasy, shifting textures eventually give way to classic jacking Chicago house. Despite showing its influences, however, The Return of Caro sounds new and different, packed with lush and unexpected sonics, subtle and unsubtle all at once.
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