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Friday, March 28, 2008 

2007: Strategy - Future Rock

(A friend asked me what my top ten albums of 2007 were. I don't have an answer in list form. I decided to do ten entries, on ten albums I really loved from 2007, which will certainly have a lot of overlap with my Pazz & Jop and Idolator ballots, although I'm not holding myself to either of those. They will be in no particular order. This is the third.)

looking over your shoulder

Blurs of colour and texture, art as Dionysian (drunken) nightmare; who ever said intoxication was fun, anyway? They weren't doing it right. A thick veil of dub technique hovers over Future Rock (neither futuristic nor particularly rock, of course) like a heat haze. It's kind of like dance music. Kind of like ambient music. Kind of like Slint with all the narrative and explosions drained out, played by half competent DJs, plunged into a lake of formaldehyde. Kind of like the moment of the night when you can't drink any more because suddenly your stomach turns on you, and the rest of the night is spent delicately negotiating with it for peace. Kind of like Excepter feeling their shoegazer oats, being guided by a recognizably human intelligence (not that John Fell Ryan et al aren't human; it's the 'recognizable' that's the problem). Kind of like riding a bus into America with a hangover, listening to Can leaking from the headphones of the guy next to you. Kind of like trying to breathe mud and dance at the same time. Kind of like hearing a dance remix of Stars of the Lid while you're falling asleep.

"Stops Spinning" is its most accessible track, just because Paul Dickow keeps intoning the same couplet for most of its length. It's still likely to make you feel like you should have stayed sober tonight. I don't honestly listen to Future Rock that often, but that's only because it's so rich. It sounds like nothing else and it's very good at doing one specific thing that nobody else in music is doing right now. Given its strangeness and its density of affect, it's ridiculously varied; the Scannerfunk build of "Red Screen," the Pan.American-on-bad-acid bounce of "Phantom Power," the weird drum interludes and semi-pop of "Can't Roll Back," the closing fade and fall of "I Have To Do This Thing (Planete Sauvage Mix)" - how are these all on the same record? And how do they all make me feel the same thing?

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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