Monday, November 3, 2008

Dancefloor Drachen - AGF

Dancefloor Drachen

AGF Producktion records.

SCQ Rating: 61%

There was a bar in London, Ontario that all my film friends loved going to. It went by the kind of name I’d only hear at drunken parties or in forgettable conversations, and thusly I never actively sought it out. Finally, on a weekend my hometown friends were crashing for a show, we met up with some others there, walking past serious, spectacled faces, blocking strange projector footage of amoebas twitching while bearded indie-kids stroked their chins and a DJ spun harmless triphop. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a film graduate as well, but there comes a divide, a line in the sand, where you prioritize your theorists and credentials from the soil beneath your feet. Although I prefer the path of a mystic over a textbook scholar, Dancefloor Drachen could have easily been playing in that bar, that night, and I wouldn’t have minded.

Apparently composed of lost tracks, 35mm fight audio and a clear love of micro-house beats, AGF’s Dancefloor Drachen is currently selling for free at his website, in an experiment more liberal and opportunistic than the In Rainbows parade was (basically, pay for it afterwards, if you liked it). To paraphrase Colin Greenwood about being ripped off by opportunists: no one who looks at the end result in financial terms would execute such a pay-what-you-want plan. Antye Greie, aka AGF, is similarly focused on the state of art; what it’s worth and whether people give a shit. I do, and Dancefloor Drachen, in theory and scope, could very well have its release party in a hip Museum of Fine Arts instead of your average downtown club.

Word of advice: don’t let casual listening convince you this should be a freebie. AGF’s use of repetition, most apparent in female vocal contributions which speak circles around key words like angry bees, is venomous on first listen; the kind of irritating, brainwash-approved producing technique that seems reserved for back-room, raver havens. Note the vocalist’s obsession with the words “if” and “you” in lead-off track ‘If You’ or the severed rhythms of women chanting “this” and “is” on ‘(because) This Is’... yeah, now you’re getting the picture. Either way, nothing suggests a brainstorm on the merits of commercial art quite like a track entirely built on calm breathing, distant sirens and audio noise entitled ‘For Free’. It’s one of the few paradoxes present that doesn’t seem intentional.

In rare cases, these vampiric intonations are perfectly suited to Dancefloor Drachen’s nihilistic outlook. ‘Slowly’ marries a stomping, hollowed-out beat to throaty whispers in what proves a mélange of vocal fragments and melodies. Even better is ‘Than Reconsider’, which with its micro touches and (gasp) actual singing, is likely the most formulaic track you’ll find here. The majority of Dancefloor Drachen seems busy sorting itself out – where it’s trying to go, whether each song’s inherent message is translating – that the few surviving dance numbers are refreshing reminders of electronica’s instinctive pleasure-center.

To accompany AGF’s giveaway strategy and question of artistic integrity in 2008, the sentence each of these tracks combine to form is as follows:
“If You/Consider/Than Reconsider/Ripping This Track/For Free/You Might/Slowly/Turn Impotent/(because) This Is/Reduced Beauty/From a Nazi Stalinist Successor”
Uhuh. I could bite and pen an essay on that statement – its relation of dangerous dictatorships to a crumbling music industry, its allusion to any number of inherent themes from xenophobia to genocide, rich VS poor, authoritarian = major labels VS democracy = internet, etc – or I could ask myself, plain and simple, whether Dancefloor Drachen musically provides any insight beyond that sequenced sentence above. It doesn’t, but who am I to say? I’m sure the kids down at that London bar could spend a semester arguing to the contrary.

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