Dandy Jack and the Junction SM
Los Siete Castigos
he rigid bedrock of house music belies a mathematical preference for arithmetic sequence, but facades are facades; house is nothing if not geometry. Still, it’s not house music that drops the ball on this metaphor, it’s you. That’s right. Because when I say geometry in the context of house, you’re thinking about things with a small fistful of angles; you’re thinking Teutonic rhythm machines that only compute the SQUARE or the TRIANGLE. You’re sitting cross-legged on the floor clanging a couple of building blocks together, moaning through a curtain of saliva—very unflattering. Don’t despair though, the supple geometry of Los Siete Castigos will dump enough angles into your lap to morph the most fervently flat-earth orthodoxies into a world of contours, curves, and oblong disruptions of space.
The album gushes playful, funky house dashed with simulations of Latin-esque percussion; Willie Bobo and Cubano boogaloo air the chunky slop of the !, while Los Siete Castigos occasionally bubbles like a more committed Mouse on Mars, suggesting the curling allure of ? The sensorial treats of Halloween come to mind, children plunging their hands into bowls of grapes and spaghetti, delighting not only in the juicy, weird topography of the stuff, but in the suggestion that amidst the playful surreality of the experience, there’s something eerie at work. Like those food-flesh substitutes for eyes, the mood of the album blends the fun “what’s around the corner” feeling and the unnerving “what’s around the goddamn corner” feeling; the goofy mouth-breath of “Video Taceo” sounds like Dandy Jack definitely wants you to get in the bubble bath with him, but with one hand under the water’s surface, you’re not sure whether he’s masturbating or concealing a knife. “Guerra De La Estrellas,” while probably one of the most slow-blossoming, beautifully detailed pieces on the record, is underpinned the whole time by the sibilant whisper of “fuck…you.” Still, it’s not all winks and malice; “Casper House” is positively dreamy, an eight-minute swirl of neon winds blowing through the blinds, pivoting on a steamy, no-frills beat that winks back at Detroit’s austerity and suggests the glow of the friendly ghost as readily as the tremulous wonder that surrounds the village idiot in Herzog’s The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser.
Dandy Jack, the alias of Chilean-born Berliner Martin Schopf, created Los Siete Castigos with Swiss DJ Sonja Moonear, who both DJs over and mixes Dandy Jack’s source material. While Berlin’s Perlon Records trades in heavily syncopated, minimalist techno, the verve of Los Siete Castigos sometimes piles enough ass into the daisy dukes to split the seams of decency, spouting a rainbow of tiny, rubbery sounds scattering like toys over the playroom; it’s not porn, but it’s not afraid to tickle, either. Still, it finds a comfortable home amongst the other slightly anomalous full-lengths the label has released recently: Villalobos’ Thè au Harem d'Archiméde and the strolling TV dada of Ark’s Caliente. (Incidentally, Schopf works alongside Villalobos in Ric Y Martin). At any rate, Schopf and Moonear have produced a unique record: voluptuous and minimal, but never druggy or repressed. Bite the berry, and you’re likely to get a trace of poison mixed in with the juice, but damned if it doesn’t make you twinkle enough to rupture your planar stasis, 90 degrees on all sides and about as exciting as another purgatory with nothing but Duplos in sight.