Music News

Soft Pink Truth

General consensus long held that in the history of popular music, avant-garde elements are rarely digested easily by the masses, and that when they are, they go down best when sugarcoated. So, music progressives, let's be thankful that one of the consequences of pop culture speeding up from "famous for 15 minutes" to "famous for 15 e-mails" is that some of the oddest sounds on record are now on pop charts and infecting iPods everywhere. Of course, hip-hop has a lot to do with this (insert ubiquitous but rightful Timbaland bow-down here), but so, too, do the laptop-wielding, software-writing technophiles who are remaking the way music is made, without necessarily remaking music.

Bay Area resident Drew Daniel, here sporting the nom de disque Soft Pink Truth, is one of the latter. As half of the sampler scientist crew Matmos, best known for their work with Björk, Daniel has been partially responsible for the recent rise of techno's musique concrete wing, composing music out of manipulated bits of sound and the strangest of sources (internal surgery, anyone?). The results of these, though, have too often been humorlessly deconstructed for their futuristic design element, too rarely smiled at. For that to happen, experimental beats compatriot Matthew Herbert had to dare Daniel to make a house record. In many ways, Do You Party? is exactly that.

It's also much more. Party? is the year's best disco-funk-electro record for folks not averse to a 1980s revival, but for whom simply copycatting the early days of MTV is a bore, who want to push things forward. In this, it works as a follow-up to Homework, Daft Punk's brilliant paean to the 1970s; the rocked-up disco-house element is replaced by a techy collage of infinitely small sampled bits. A ton of cool sources -- Prince, Missy Elliott, booty-tech, microhouse -- are loaded into a G4 Cuisinart, then techniques better suited for modern art galleries are used to create an unparalleled version of dance-pop. In fact, hearing workouts like "Promofunk" and "Big Booty Bitches" (whose very titles betray the funk quotient contained herein) out on the dance floor, you'd be hard-pressed to call any of it truly avant-garde.

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Piotr Orlov