igital Penetration is being touted in some places as the manifesto of a bold, dynamic movement, no, wait, a revolution: new rave. Admittedly, those making the loudest noise are dance music bible NME (“The album you have to hear” trumpets the cover) closely followed by the trend hungry broadsheets. That new rave doesn’t really exist beyond this compilation doesn’t bother me too much; I like a confidently spun yarn, and manifestos precede movements anyway. That being said, successful manifestos don’t usually come with a shocking pink “Bargain!” sticker on the front. (The CD retails for a fiver in the UK.)
But this isn’t a manifesto. A manifesto would signal that somewhere, even once, on this compilation that someone was making a stand. Or breaking with history. Or signalling a shift from, instead of a continuation with, (indie) business as usual. If anything, Digital Penetration is a vague agglomeration of rote post-Franz Ferdinand and post-DFA and post-electroclash moves repackaged as an antithesis to James Blunt/Sandi Thom faux-for-realness. There’s none of the sweat and delirium of a rave here, it’s, y’know, indie dance and barely even that.
The general pattern—These New Puritans, The Neon Plastix, New Young Pony Club—is naïve (i.e. inept) drum machine or disco drums, jagged guitars, a bit of synth, and vox that desperately want to sound (if female) sexy or (if male) like Billie Mackenzie. The female singer for Revl9n yelps “let her rip, one-two” like she’s going to let loose a huge fart. Bricolage bring insipid post-Postcard revivalism again. Given the thesis, it’s hard to imagine why these bands make their way on to Digital Penetration at all: they’re missing both mid-range rock whump and dancefloor bass pressure.
The Klaxons stick out in this company—they at least have thickness and motion. But, divorced from their comedy covers of Kicks Like a Mule and Perfecto Allstars tracks, it just sounds like something invented to fill the slot left empty by the split of the Test Icicles (with “rave” replacing “grime” as a referent). Crystal Castles bleep out some nice 8-bit funk and there’s a sweetly arranged Hot Chip remix of Architecture in Helsinki, but it’s slim pickings otherwise.
Shit Disco spend their entry boasting of a “disco feeling… in my blood” and dropping Bobby Orlando and Dinosaur L references. But don’t expect anything like Bobby or Arthur’s experimentalism or use of space or tunes or lushness or love or beauty or boldness or sweat or queerness or utopianism or corniness or cum or blood or joy. These bands are too polite for any of that. Digital Penetration? More like digital tease.
Reviewed by: Patrick McNally
Reviewed on: 2006-08-04