Journal of Pirate Lingo*


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* not an actual journal
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12.10.02 - 4:46 p.m.

Best vocal-y house tunes of all time (subject to revision without notice):

1) Dub Taylor, "Sweet Lips"

I don't know micro-house from my ass in the ground, but this song makes me want to dance close to someone with palms touching. That's the exact corny image I get in my head. It evokes that feeling of rolling through a crowd where everyone's smiling and nobody's posing. Admittedly the vocals are cheeseball ("your sweet lips on mine" x 100), but it's got that nice upbeat swing to it.

2) Green Velvet, "La-La Land"

Damn this is catchy. The reviews I read talk about it as social commentary, which it is. "something bout those little pills / unreal the thrills they yield / until they kill a million brain cells" But what makes it subversive is that that message is rapped up in this insanely fun-housey chant that makes you wanna bounce. It's hard to write about the sonic qualities of house tracks ("it's got a 4-4 beat... with some filtery stuff on top... and... uh...") so maybe I should just start making stuff up.

3) DJ Sneak, "You Can't Hide From Your Bud"

ooh that snazzy looped saxophone cuts through me like butter. it gets louder and softer, filtered high, filtered low, with scatting and moaning here and there, but thankfully the vocals are clipped and used more as pure tones than as anthems. my theory is that if you're e'd up (and you don't have to be, but say you are) your brain longs to hear emotional human sounds, e.g. a nice female voice. but at the same time, you (ok, I) want it to stay abstract and not become cheesy and distracting. i hate dancing to disco diva crap. thus the omni trio/todd edwards style of chopping up vocals into delicious choked up bits is ideal. ok i'm really just copping simon reynolds here. he's a pretentious git but he writes about this stuff so well. ok fuck it i'm just going to jack a passage:
Traditional New York garage privileges the classy vocal, draping its melodious melisma over the groove. In contrast, 2-step producers subordinate the singer to funktionalist priorities, slicing'n'dicing the vocal samples into staccato, percussive riffs that interlock with the groove to create extra syncopations. "Vocal science" is Bat from ukdance 's term for this vivisection of the diva, which effectively transforms the singer into a component of the drum kit. 2-step's vocal tricknology has resituated garage on the other side of house's great divide: songs versus "tracks", melody versus rhythm 'n' FX. Right from the start, there's been a tension in house between veneration of the Big Voice (Darryl Pandy, Robert Owens, Tina Moore, CeCe Peniston, et al) and a more pragmatic "trackhead" approach that uses anonymous session-divas as raw material (Todd Terry and Nitro Deluxe creating stammer-riffs by "playing" the vocal sample on the sampling keyboard).

Jungle producers like Omni Trio took these crude techniques to the next level of sophistication, molding and morphing diva vocals into a sort of passion-plasma, a body-without-organs fluid. Then, just as the hypergasmic diva was fading from jungle, "vocal science" flickered back to life somewhere else--US garage, of all places. On his remixes of St. Germain's "Alabama Blues" and his own tracks like "Never Far From You", New Jersey producer Todd Edwards developed a technique of cross-hatching brief snatches of vocals into a melodic-percussive honeycomb of blissful hiccups, so burstingly rapturous it's almost painful to the ear.

How can I top that shiznat?

Am I trying to get to five? Ok

4) the song on the Alex P/Brendan Block mix that came with some issue of Mixmag, where they take the sample "something's going on inside of my head" and do a cliched but still glorious build-up that climaxes with a sustained loop of "going on, going on, going on on on."

ooh... that song is totally awesome

5) Any Heiko Laux track, because Heiko Laux is the boss

his tunes are so effortlessly melodic but still the rhythmic trickery is there. no out-of-the-box hi-hats for my man heiko. big up to sandeep for turning me on to kanzleramt. You should investigate if you like this kind of thing.

See, this is why I don't write about music. I sound like such a nerd. And that wouldn't be so bad if I had anything innovative to say. Criticism is hard. Still I think I'm going to start trying it more, because you have to be willing to fail to grow. Also maybe I will try to tell jokes.

Q: How many house music tracks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


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