Monday, 12 October 2009

Random album review #1

Over the past few months, there have been a few examples of things that people have done when they were bored that probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but have turned out to be a bit silly: James May (him off of Top Gear) got bored one day and built a full size house out of lego, which was promptly demolished; Anton Du Beke (him off of Strictly Come Dancing) got bored one day and decided to start racially insulting his dance partner, and was promptly met with a distinct lack of the mega-lolz that he had probably been hoping for; and a man in Thailand got bored one day and decided to stick a gun through his mouth, which should be promptly met with lots of respect and wonderment and no sniggering whatsoever because he's in Thailand and it was probably propah religious or political or sumfing yeah?

Anyway, in my most recent moment d'ennui I have decided to do a series of posts whereby I review an album selected at random from my iTunes library. Following the numerous allegations in recent times against The Hardcore and The Gentle in the British press that this blog deceives and dupes the reader by being, "so stunningly brilliant that it's hard to distinguish between what are genuinely the words of the author, and what has been passed down and engraved upon the page by celestial beings" (Richard Littlejohn, The Daily Mail), I will be thoroughly transparent with how 'random' these albums are, although technophobes beware: the selection process is a long and complicated affair. With the 'shuffle' function activated, a song is selected in iTunes. The 'next' button is then pressed. This process continues until a song in a complete album is reached. This album is to be the random album that has received it's calling to be reviewed. So without further ado, please inform any technophobes that may be cowering behind nearby sofas or billiards tables that it's safe to return, and let us explore our first album. As it's the first album of this epic series, it's not quite as random as the others will be, as I decided to keep going until I reached an LP that I knew well and felt I could talk about without listening to it again too deeply. That album, ladies and gentlemen and technophobes, is...


Most likely due to the countless remixes that it spawned and the discovery that the French duo are actually a pair of prize prats, this album has lain untouched in my music library for quite a while now. If I was clever, I would have noted down when the tracks were last played before I listened to the whole thing again just now, to give you an idea of just how long me and this once crowning gem of my music collection have been separated. But I'm not, and I didn't. I can however use my eyes and my Windows calculator to calculate how many times I've listened to songs from it, before Cross took a sabbatical from my ears. 480 times, exactly. Four hundred, and eighty, times. Yes siree, me and the debut offering of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay had truly rolled around in the hay together A LOT, and upon relistening I began to wonder what had kept me away for so long. Then I re-read the opening line of this paragraph, and all made sense. A huge number of remixers have added their own touches to the tracks of Cross since it was released mid-2007, although only a select few have conjured up anything that could be possibly better than the 12 galacticos that appear on the original release. Soulwax and Boys Noize produced incredible remixes of Phantom Pt. II, while Erol's remix of Waters of Nazareth was a classic (ed) banger long before Cross even hit the shelves. Such remixes have added excitement to tracks that eventually and inevitably become over-listened, and the beefier beats make for greater fun when played in clubs.

There are other reasons as to why Cross began to fall off my radar. One was due to the release of the 'A Cross the Universe' DVD/live CD, the DVD part of which chronicled the black-clad French pair touring around America being dicks, which instantly made listening to their music seem a lot less appealing. Apart from developing huge egos, another side effect of Justice's rise to the top was that their label, Ed Banger, also grew, which is not a good thing in my opinion. This heralded an onslaught of gimmicks rather than quality releases - every Ed Banger video now seemed to be a copy of D.A.N.C.E., their distinctive(ly annoying) t-shirts popped up everywhere, Uffie was for some reason granted greater exposure rather than being shot and dumped in to the Seine, and all the while the label was mainly releasing naff Justice soundalikes, with no real effort at innovation. On the subject of Uffie, has 'Pop the Glock' (her only good song, apart from 'The Party' on Cross) just been re-released or used in an advert or something? I swear I've spotted it around quite a bit recently, leading me to turn to religion and pray every day that this doesn't mean she's about to gain mainstream popularity. She's truly dreadful. She's a classic Ed Banger gimmick, only there because she's a female who raps and could be considered not bad looking. Absolute plop live as well; Bill O'Reilly could get up on stage wearing nothing but an apron with a picture of Stalin spanking my mum on and sing 'Ooh Stick You' by Daphne & Celeste in a shrill falsetto while doing rapid squat-thrusts with my head lodged between his legs, and it would still be ten times better than Uffie's performance when I had the misfortune of seeing her live.

As always, I digress. I think the biggest reason for my long vacation away from Cross was the same reason I had fallen in love with it in the first place. It was the record that dragged my 2007 indie-loving self away from the past-time of searching for obscure and usually rubbish (although this wasn't to be admitted at the time) indie bands - the constant quest for 'the next big thing' followed by the instant rejection of the same band once they so much as dare be played on Zane Lowe - and pointed me in the direction of dance music, which is just more fun. Cross is the perfect rock/electro record, combining enough guitar rock influences to satisfy your average Reading Festival goer with enough danceability to keep a Creamfields crowd bopping long in to the night. Indie gigs can often be a pretty boring and tepid affair, especially if you're tucked away in a small pub watching a band that was once featured in the backpages of NME alongside a crowd of approximately 6 other people, while dance music tends to be feel-good music that people can just shake off inhibitions to and enjoy. Cross has led me further in to the world of dance, and in the whirl of all the electronic beeps and beats out there unfortunately this perfectly crafted beauty has fallen by the wayside. Despite this, I can recall somewhat drunkenly enthusing at length to my unfortunate pal Gus not all that long ago that Cross is, "the PERFECT album".

Because it is.

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Now, for the next instalment of this random album saga, I won't resort to clicking shuffle until I find something I can write about already. I'm gonna click until a track from a complete album is found (to clarify, this means a track from an album that I have the whole of in my library), and then I'm gonna give that album a damn good listen, no matter what it is. And I've got some tat in my music library, some absolute tat.

Right, here we go...

...hmm. OK. Riiight.

The sophisticated selection process has thrown up 'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison. An absolute classic.... I'm told. Never really listened to it all properly if I'm perfectly honest. I'll strive on with the task regardless, but the next post could well be fairly short and boring. You'll be able to tell how I got on with this challenge without even reading a word, as I'm guessing there'll be a long list of songs in my 'Currently Loving' section at the end to bulk out the post if I haven't found much to talk about with ol' Van.

So, I hope you've enjoyed this first random album review (or rar... let's hope it's a WINrar, eh? Eh? Oh my wit is lost on you technophobes), and, er, maybe tell your parents to tune in for the next instalment? Here's a taster from Astral Weeks to get you in the mood for the next post. As if you weren't stoked enough already....

p.s. Seeing as I'd be ashamed of any of my readers (that's right - you. Yes, YOU, are now 'my reader'. How does it feel, bitch?) who didn't already have Cross as well as the best of the remixes of it, I'll do a blogging rarity and un-remix one of the tracks on the album. Here's the 1982 song that's sampled in Phantom: Goblin - Tenebre. It's not particularly good. But, y'know what? OOH STICK YOU, YO' MAMA TOO AND YO' DADDY.

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