Once in a while, a song comes along that is essentially
perfect. It is so far above and beyond everything else you heard
recently, so good it just dominates the rest of the record it
is on, and so nice you just want to play it over and over until
the laser burns a hole in the CD. So it is with the new Miss
Kittin CD, I Com, where the track in question
is Dub About Me. This is dub in the true old school sense,
not the phony modern day meaning of "this is just an instrumental
version of the song and I'm too lazy to actually remix the track,
so I'll just peel the vocals off and call it a dub version."
This is dub as it is meant to be.
The keys start out and set an anxious, almost nervous tone. Next, the hi hat insinuates its way up to the front of the mix, complementing the keys, and setting the table for the main course. The sound-cutting, crystalline, chiming finger cymbals come in, followed by the kick drum, which brutally drops down like the weight of the world. It's 16 tons of black steel on an unsuspecting python. It's like hearing the heartbeat of the universe. Then, the payoff. The whipcrack, snare rimshot punches through with force and clarity, echoing through the track. Sounds are syncopated, mixed up and back, in and out, woven into a densely layered and complex whole. Topping it all off is the plaintive vocal laying out the lover's timeless dilemma: "I don't know what you want. I don't know what you need. Heaven and love know the answer, but baby, what about me?" The bridge has the keys bubbling up to the front again, bringing to mind Joy Division's The Eternal of all things. Then, the chorus comes back in, filtered, gated and distorted into an inhuman parody of the singer's raw need and desire. Finally, we ride the relentless rhythm to the close.
It's just so good.
I don't even want to listen to the rest of the disc. But I do, in hopes of hearing the magic again. Sadly, because lightning only strikes once, you don't. Still, there are also other tracks here that stand out. 3eme Sexe sets a tale of sexual identity to a lovely, perky, electro background and is sung beautifully in French. Happy Violentine has a tenacious hook and sounds like Being Boiled-era Human League fronted by someone who can sing, as opposed to the former cashier duo they feature these days. Other tracks mine the techno/electro/noise/pop genre to less effect.
However, for every yin there is a yang, and so it is with this CD. In contrast to the glory of Dub About Me we get, "I beat that bitch with a hit." A sentiment that is obnoxious in its own right, it is repeated ad infinitum by the male rapper as the basis for Requiem for a Hit. In this context, it becomes monumentally offensive and annoying. I'm sure "that bitch" is supposed to refer to the charts or the music industry or something other than a woman, but that's just lame. You also have the charming request that starts the track off ("show me your tits, and lets make a hit") which undercuts that interpretation. Speaking entirely personally, there's no doubting the inspirational effect a nice rack can have, however, it's just nasty and crass the way the point is made.
But, stick to the good stuff on this disc and you'll dig it.
A technical note: this disc includes IFPI copy protection that is intended
to prohibit people from ripping the disc to a digital format.
Copy protection raises some interesting issues, most notably
the fact that copy protected CDs are not compliant with the
redbook standard that governs what an audio CD can and cannot
be. Check out these links for some further reading on the subject:
The CD features a warning label that states that the label's intentional alteration of the redbook format may also interfere with playback in car CD players, but I had no difficulty. Your mileage may vary.