ames Murphy is a self-confessed “fat guy in a t-shirt doing all the singing”: why the hell is he composing a soundtrack for 45-minute jogs? The simple answer is because Nike asked him to, and he thought it’d be a good challenge, allowing him to do something akin to Manuel Gottesching’s E2-E4, a near-legendary piece of formative electronica that pulses and twists across a similar three-quarter-hour length, without descending into gimmick. Because a running soundtrack isn’t gimmicky. And neither is “Losing My Edge.”
Whatever. Nike “owns” 45:33 for the next six months, during which time you can only get it by downloading it from iTunes. After that DFA get it back somehow, presumably meaning that it’ll see a full release on vinyl and CD around April 2007, by which time we’ll all have gotten super-duper fit by running around with it on our iPods through the winter, yeah? Maybe.
Obviously there are moral issues involved in taking dollars from Nike for your “art”—a quick perusal around knowmore.org uncovers a litany of sweatshop horrors, human rights abuses, and other such distasteful big business activities—but DFA Records are already signed to major labels in most territories around the world, including EMI in the UK (a label I’ve taken checks from, so I can’t bitch about with any moral ire), and if you were that bothered about ethical consumerism you’d never buy a record or piece of technology connected in any way to Sony, which would make life pretty difficult indeed. And besides, hipster kids in All Stars bitching about Murphy’s ethics literally don’t have a foot to stand on: Nike bought Converse three years ago.
Anyway, when all is said and done, the question is this: is 45:33 any good, both as a soundtrack to stretching your quadriceps and as a 45-minute pseudo-mixtape expressing what LCD Soundsystem are? And the answer is, simply, yes to both.
It takes three minutes for us to even get a beat, presumably how long it takes Murphy to lace his sneakers and put his sweatbands on, but once that beat comes (accompanied by some choppy, jazzified house piano) it stays and it works you hard for the next half-hour, rising in intensity and BPM to a peak before allowing you to warm-down and get your heart rate back below 120 before it finishes.
Of course it’s not quite that simple, as Murphy rushes us through a seeming history of Chicago house, Italo, and straight-ahead discopunk. All the pat LCD Soundsystem sounds are present at one moment or another, plus some extras—there’s a surfeit of trumpet in the third quarter, for instance, which makes a pleasant addition to the rubber-band bass, delirious backing vocals, dirty hipster monologues, and sundry kinetic analogue squelchings that we’re more used to. Highlights include the house-driven piano and backing vox of the 3:00-9:00 minute section, the hyper-electro catchiness of 11:00-18:00, and the full-on frenetic punk charge after a pause for breath around 29:00. The last quarter or so winds you down after all the exertion, the BPM and surrounding chaos slowly falling to an ambient heartbeat that falls to Lance-Armstrong-in-the-bath levels for the final few minutes.
45:33 works both as exercise-soundtrack and discopunk-odyssey because James Murphy understands how to make people move on a basic, physical level. 45:33 fits a great legacy of music that is elongated and/or designed for a specific purpose—from Eno’s subdued Music for Airports to The Necks’ succinctly titled Sex. You can fuss and fret about its ontological origins as much as you like; the music itself is great.