Sunday, March 25, 2007

Interlude: Mixtress

For some background on Ellen, check out Friday's Washington Square News, as well as the interview.

The L Train and I are becoming very good acquaintances. My previous experiences in Brooklyn have all been very enjoyable, but this one definitely topped them all in sheer excess. It was the first real DJ set I've been to, and although I expected something radically different from your straight-up rock show, I still ended up being blown away. While my fixation with more straightforward pop songs prevents me from becoming an exclusive devout of the 4/4 beat, there's something really refreshing in, to paraphrse James Murphy, trading in your guitars for turntables.

Lauren Flax

Lauren is a local DJ who may or may not be White Lightning. Upon first glance at around half-past-ten, I thought she was Ellen Allien, but that flew in face of all concert methodology. The confusion was dispersed after the resident MC extolled the crowd (which grew to a pretty staggering size rapidly) to "give it up for Lauren Flax," or some similar gesture, and in retrospect, there are some pretty large stylistic disparities between the two. While I'm not particularly skilled at identifying the various electronic genres (it seems a pretty subjective practice, anyhow), the set was pretty house-centric, with a relatively uptempo aesthetic.

But music aside, there's something really human about dancing, quality nonwithstanding, with complete strangers. I can understand why people dislike electronic music, as it's admittedly pretty devoid of meaning in most cases, but that hardly means that you can't have a deep connection with it, particularly when those around you are flinging themselves about with abandon. I like uses the analogy of abstract and realistic visual art when comparing electronica and "pop" music, but there's always overlap.

Anyhow, here are the few songs I did recognize from the set:

MP3: Daft Punk - Burnin'
MP3: Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up For Detroit
MP3: Green Velvet - Shake & Pop
MySpace: Lauren Flax

Ellen Allien

When Ellen Allien (finally) came on at 1 am, the mood changed pretty drastically. While the opening set was propelled with prominent beats, I thought Ellen's sound was a bit more subtle. Whil it wasn't as initially immediate, the velocity did increase with time, although I still felt a sparsity even when the percussion went into overdrive. But one of the things that I find most appealing about Ellen's music is the way it conveys emotion while maintaining detachment; there's a sophistication here that really distinguishes her from the hordes of DJs out there.

One of the pleasant surprises of the evening was the inclusion of Thom Yorke's gloomy "Harrowdown Hill," one of my personal standouts from The Eraser. (Does anyone know if her remix of the title track ever emerged?) While the vocal in particular isn't really dance floor friendly, it definitely matched the overall mood. Finally, just before 3 am, I got what I came for: the downright anthemic "Way Out," featuring live vocals, the definitive personal highlight of the night. Here are some versions of those two tracks that you may not have heard:

At this point I was pretty wiped out, and I'm sorry to say I made an exit just as Miss Kitten took over the turntables and the microphone (she also contributed some dissonance to "Way Out"). If anyone has any thoughts on her set, or overall feelings (when did it end?), feel free to shout 'em out.

Official Site: Miss Kitten

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