Just a glance at some of the ‘genres’ featured on this compilation – witch house and shitgaze to name but two – clearly displays how preposterous and futile it is to even attempt to pin down and label any of the artists on show here. Nevertheless, while Fuck Dance, Let’s Art fails to convince that the featured artists are actually part of any sort of cohesive movement, it does provide a sneak peek into a world of cross-pollinating experimental bloggers, and, more importantly, is a fantastic compilation of interesting, engaging and fresh music.
Dubbed by its compilers as an attempt to document the escapist tendencies of 'a superpower slowly but surely losing its mojo', it ties in tracks by artists as ‘underground’ as Animal Collective and Crystal Castles and as obscure as oOoOO and Raw Moans. Whether shitgaze turns out to be the USA’s final swansong, only time will tell; however in trying to identify a scene that centres around 'a vaguely non-mainstream aesthetic', !K7 have given voice to a whole branch of experimental electronica which may never have otherwise made it out of a few attics in Williamsburg. The attempt to define and document this burgeoning scene is a task which the creators themselves admit is flawed, seeing as the compilation features almost exclusively East Coast artists, and includes Canadians Crystal Castles in this supposed American underground. Or, to cut the bullshit and stop attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, !K7 have identified a growing trend, taken a bunch of very good songs, attributed to them a wide-ranging socio-political nous and packaged it all together with a snazzy album cover and a suitably pretentious name.
The strength of this compilation, which also turns out to be one of its greatest weaknesses as a concept, is the diversity on show. From the dark and dancey tracks such as Creep’s remix of Baghdaddy’s ‘Hot Shit’, Slava’s prog-house techno offering ‘Anything’ and Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH’s notorious ‘Crimewave’ to the R’n’B/hip hop influenced chilled tracks like Washed Out’s ‘Feel It All Around’, Toro y Moi’s Dilla-esque ‘Fax Shadow’ and oOoOO’s ‘Sedsumthing’, the disparity of the artists is marked. That is not to say, however, that they do not function under similar parameters, as most of the tracks here feature lo-fi production and glitchy bedroom electronics. Reflecting the success of !K7’s DJ Kicks series, the track selection and placement on Fuck Dance, Let’s Art is excellent, as the few common threads that run through the various songs are woven together expertly.
The record comes at you in waves, slowly transforming from the dark and glitchy to sun kissed and hopeful. The weird fuzziness and distorted dance music on show – all the craze in 2010 with the likes of Caribou and Four Tet in particular pushing dance music boundaries – is the inevitable result of indie geeks peddling electronica, and long may it continue. The recycling of Nineties dance and R&B elements into weird and wonderful shoegazey glitchiness is a breath of fresh air after the stagnation of the Seventies and Eighties ‘The’ band revival of the last decade. Whether this has any wider implications in relation to the state of Western or American society remains to be seen, however it does promise to deliver fresh and exciting results in a scene as DIY as punk ever was, and this compilation is as essential a starter pack as you could wish to have.
8Alex Baker's Score