Supreme Beings of Leisure

"Whoa, this sounds like disco, huh?"

Precisely, my Funkytown-fearing friends. These SBLs are here to say bass and drum are out -- Sturm und Drang is in! Purging the system of two founding members has left Ramin Sakurai and Geri Soriano-Lightwood free to explore their individual impulses and make use of a good pun in the title, at the expense of their new limited company. DOS melts away much of the clinical cool that made the group's debut seem more the work of patching programmers than a band of players. Except for Soriano-Lightwood's icy stares from the "Freezer" she keeps her heart in and the Portishead balalaikas of "Rock and a Hard Place" to make you feel Euro trashed, the balance of DOS is très Chic, a charming Studio 54-gery complete with real soaring string charts courtesy of Love Supreme Strings. It's as if Deee-Lite's Lady Miss Kier has been hijacked by the Salsoul Orchestra, only to be occasionally detained by Kraftwerk.

This ain't no disco -- or at least not a re-creation of disco as you remember it. Supreme Beings' click-and-paste blurs the dividing line between blaxploitation (with its despairing gritty lyrical realism) and the escapism of the Ritchie Family and KC and the Sunshine Band in the mid-'70s. On DOS, the Supreme Beings alchemize the genres, turning the word "ghetto" into a synonym for negative thinking. Like Shirley Manson's metamorphosis from pessimistic vamp to "go baby" positivism on Garbage's last album, Soriano-Lightwood has learned that the word "party" needn't have the words "drowning" or "guilty" preceding it. In fitting with the album's get-up-and-boogie-or-do-something theme, Soriano-Lightwood invites the listener to "Give Up," "Get Away," "Touch Me" and "Catch Me." That last item could've made one of the greatest James Bond love themes ever, equating romance with a dizzying drop from the heavens.

While DOS works better as catwalk-strutting music than as actual booty shaking for the masses, the Supreme Beings of Leisure can be commended for neither resting on their laurels nor loading a dance album with bum tracks.


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