A couple weeks ago, LCD Soundsystem released 45 minutes of new material—but it's not a new album. Rather, James Murphy recorded an exclusive track for Nike, called "45:33." The song, available on iTunes, apparently coordinates with some shoe/iPod package and is meant to be the soundtrack for a workout with different passages for warming up, exercising, and cooling down. The title, "45:33," references both the speeds at which one plays records, even though the song doesn't exist on vinyl, and the length of the track, even though the mp3 actually clocks in at 45:58.
There was a time when this kind of corporate-sponsored, cross-promotional stunt would have been rather controversial, but these days commercial licensing is such an accepted avenue for artists that no one seems to care. And anyway, Murphy's DFA Records has been partnered with major labels (Astralwerks/EMI/Capitol) for a while now. Blogger Nick Sylvester has even gone so far as to declare this sort of product "the new album," envisioning a utopian system of corporate arts patronage with Nike and other companies as the new Medicis.
"45:33" is also interesting because it highlights a trend (noted by the prescient Philip Sherburne) among electronic artists—digitally freed from the time constraints inherent to physically reproduced recordings, they're able to create longer and longer tracks, move (even further) away from what we think of as typical song structures, and play with ideas about time, format, and composition. "45:33" isn't an album per se, but it also doesn't feel like a single song, despite its continuity.
The track begins with three minutes of warm synth arpeggios, piano chords, and handclaps before Murphy's live drumming and bass kick in. A minute later, dueling voices appear, whispering "shame on you" and crooning "you can't hide your love away from me" over muted guitar picking and background oohs. Almost 10 minutes in, the beat changes slightly with the addition of programmed high hats and an extra bass kick, and the acoustic instruments are abandoned for an array of synths. Around the 17-minute mark, the live drumming returns, along with bubbling bass and twitchy clavichord. Murphy launches into an absurd lyrical space odyssey, singing, "My favorite song reminds me of the first time I went to space," as his voice pitch shifts to a ludicrous low frequency. And then the brass section starts. At 28 minutes, the drumming gets hectic and the vocals get vocoded. At 36 minutes, the beats reverse, slipping away, and the track winds down with several minutes of echoing bass and soft synth pads.
"45:33" doesn't recall the punchy disco infiltration of LCD Soundsystem's singles and self-titled record so much as Murphy's extended remixes as half of DFA; the track would sound comfortable next to the space-disco outings of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Metro Area, or Joakim. Not being much of a jogger, I can't speak to its calorie-burning potential, but even without a workout, "45:33" is a fine piece of music and another unexpected turn from this iconoclastic producer.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 10
Veteran DJ Mike Grant witnessed the birth of Detroit techno as a member of that city's first radio mix show, Street Beat, where he worked with legendary producers such as Derrick May and Juan Atkins. Recently, Grant has focused on house, starting the Moods & Grooves label to release his own productions as well as work by John Tejada & Arian Leviste, Theo Parrish, and others. Grant brings a lifetime of experience and a deep love of music to his DJ sets, as does the night's resident, Seattle's venerable DJ Riz. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 10 pm, $10, 21+.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11
Seattle's DJ Misha guests at this edition of Re-bar's killer techno monthly, Krakt. Misha produces clean and delicate electro, and her most recent DJ mix features equally pristine sounds from artists such as Broker/Dealer, Jeff Samuel, and Booka Shade. Krakt tends to elicit the loudest and hardest records from DJs' crates, and no doubt Misha will rise to the occasion with ease. With Kristina Childs and Paul Edwards. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 9 pm, $5, 21+.
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 14
Shy Child is Nate Smith on drums and Pete Cafarella (formerly of Dischord dance punks El Guapo) on synths. Their music mixes analog synths, aggressive drumming, and urgent vocals, and their remixes of artists like Stars as Eyes and the Futureheads demonstrate their skills as producers. With Hot Chip, Born Ruffians, and DJ Colin. Neumo's, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467, 8 pm, $12 adv, 21+.