DJ Hell
NY Muscle
2005
B



at this point, I think it’s safe to presume that electroclash and trucker caps have oodles in common. However, for a genre pronounced dead early last year, it has managed to resurrect itself fairly capably here and there since its apparent demise. Exhibit A) Everything But An Answer by German duo Mysterymen. This synth-laden bad biddy hatched just four months ago, over a year after the alleged downfall. Exhibit B) D.U.M.E. EP by Adult., due to be released this April. Meanwhile, Fischerspooner has remixed Kylie and been graced by a deal with Capitol, and Felix has remixed Britney and been seen flexing in stateside Motorola TV ads. It seems that the horse is still beatable. And it is pummeled accordingly with the release of NY Muscle, Berlin electro-techno champion DJ Hell’s third proper full length in 11 years.

Now, if you smoke like I smoke, then you know electroclash hasn’t actually been around for 11 years, per se. The blueprints for it have been extant as long as Bambaataa, but it didn’t really become a “movement” until, say, 2001. Hell and his entourage (the Gigolo camp) have been pumping out discernible techno-turned-electroclash for a good while now. Arguably, Hell (or Gigolo via Hell) set the genre in motion before anyone else truly got there. He’s not only a pioneer of this stuff; he’s a survivor, as demonstrated on the tracks making up NY Muscle.

The record in question doesn’t trail too far from standards set with the genre back in ‘01. It stays fairly well grounded in Hell’s signature dark and stoic techno escapades, which have always been well suited for electroclash stylings. Production-wise, Hell keeps NY Muscle cold, sleek and fashionably minimal.

The track list is peppered with impressive guest spots. The James “LCD” Murphy-featured “Tragic Picture Show” is appropriately configured to routines in dance-punk. Dance-pop diva Billie Ray Martin lends a croon or two on the pop standards-inspired “Je Regrette Everything.” And no less than Alan Vega of legendary NY post-punk duo Suicide contributes on “Listen to the Hiss” and “Meet the Heat,” while Erlend Øye makes his appearance on the single, “Keep on Waiting.”

Speaking of the single, the video features an appearance by none other than Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Seriously. The video itself is nothing so special, but there are indeed several instances of Hell and Diddy coolin’ out in the studio. I remember hearing Tommie Sunshine speak at a CMJ panel about Puffy’s eventual plans to sign artists like Amp Fiddler, Felix da Housecat and Hell to Bad Boy and, in turn, get them some stateside exposure. This video appearance has been the first real piece of evidence I’ve seen to back up such a seemingly absurdist claim. If Diddy triggers such acts to break through to the American mainstream, then dammit, good for him. After all, he did invent the remix.


Reviewed by: Will Simmons
Reviewed on: 2005-03-29
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