Summer here kids
Fuck, two days till the end of my academic career and the beginning of the most sustained partying period I've undergone in a year. Followed swiftly, of course, by the sinking in my stomach as I confront the fact I've yet to find myself a job, and having to spend the second half of the summer sending CVs to incredulous employers as I sweat untold buckets into my England shirt. The World Cup, baby. How long now? Ten days or summat. Fuck yes.
Thoughts of summer have been heavy on my mind today, and they have very little to do with the weather, which seems to be carrying on as if it were deepest February. That's what it's like in England. You forget what summer feels like. So imagine my gratitude when I got hold of Serge Santiago's ferociously good re-edit of the Sunshine Underground's 'I Ain't Losing Any Sleep', surely the most plucky contender for non-techno summer anthem I've heard this year? I've been ludicrously sleepy in terms of keeping up with indie shenanigans in the past year, largely because I no longer live with my dear friend Sam and his dutiful NME-buying, not to mention his gift for sifting through the swathes of boyish imposture which tend to dominate guitar-based music these days in search of the truly golden nuggets. Sigh. Anyway, from what I gather the Sunshine Underground (pictured above) are precocious alt-rockers who use punk-funk as a starting point rather than a dressy afterthought; some of the lyrics are awful (what's with the 'Whadya say, hey?'. What's wrong with 'Whadya say, eh?', eh?) but it really doesn't matter 'cos the tune is fantastically simplistic in that life-affirming, i-could-have-made-that-up-myself-in-the-shower way, and Serge works the mixing desk like I've never heard him before...
Notionally, I'm a big fan of Serge (pictured left), but even his fairly legendary colour series which went some way to defining the nascent electro-house/italo/disco revolution in 2004 only yielded occasional fruit for this picker - the green one, with the emphatic double whammy of 'Adventures in Failure' and 'It's A War', has long been a beloved 12" throughout TAPE headquarters. I also really fell for that mix of Goldfrapp he did, not to mention the retro-space-age triumphalism of 'Atto D'Amore', which rocked the floor at TAPE back in the Blue Peterish Elbow Room days. But I never clicked with the old Radio Slave stuff, and I can't say I rush to check his new productions. But this is different. A subtle but beefy edit which doesn't resort to big-cocked synth riffs to prove its point, Santiago instead gives the adenoidal vocal much-needed room to breathe, ups the banging-on-dustbins punk-funk element and confidently but gently inserts winning electronic progressions under the surface, clicks and beeps and italo metronomy galore. Most importantly, he works the drums perfectly, retaining the clobbering live sound but varying the emphases in such a way that pilled-up techies may even surrender to the feelgood guitar riffs. Spanking.
The Sunshine Underground - I'm Not Losing Any Sleep (Serge Santiago Remix) // CDR
So, there was me, listening to the Sunshine Underground with real pleasure but ruefully thinking 'Wherefore art thou electro/tech-house?'. Every year's a great year for music, you know, but I don't think it's unfair of me to say that the electro-house sound really hit the peak of creative fertility last year, giving birth to monstrous classic after monstrous classic and effecting something approaching a third Summer of Love in clubs and living rooms across the world. Or maybe I just took more drugs back then? I'm not suggesting that we've been shortchanged with music this year - I mean, new-school disco gets better and better, dub has made a glorious return to our listening shores (I know it never left for some) in both techno and dubstep styles, and there've been a fair few bangers coming off the press. If there weren't, God knows I wouldn't bother to update this blog. All I'm saying is, that spasm of new wave electro-house that culminated in 'Mandarine Girl' has receded, if not departed. But wait...what's this? A two-month-old track from John Tejada (pictured above right). So what? I haven't liked anything he's released in the last six months. No, wait, I've been told he's throwing in the production towel! Really? Yeah, apparently - he just wants to get on with normal life. Shit - how bizarre. Someone should tell him how dull normal life is. It may be an elaborate ruse. Must be. But what's this track you're on about like anyway? It's AMAZING. How so? It came out two months ago and no one caused much fuss. God knows why they didn't - trust me, it'll remind you of 'Mandarine Girl' and the early summer of 2005 and reinstate your love of trendy trance! You lie! No, seriously, I'm telling the truth! It's got this delicate, blissfully unfolding melody that rises and rises and takes you all the way with it - And it's backed up with tight, tough, clicky percussion lines the likes of which you thought only the 'Shade at their peak were capable of! No, really. You are shitting me. For fuck's sake, listen. YOU WILL LOVE THIS. It doesn't sound pioneering, I'll concede, but it's just superbly crafted and will've burrowed its way into your consciousness before you can say 'Tejada'. I think you're lying, but I'll give it a try. ---Seven minutes later----. Oh. My. God. You're right - it's fucking sublime. And it kicks.
Seriously folks, this one's an epic. I don't know how it escaped my attention back in March. Turn it up well fucking loud and behold the Sound of E '05 Alive And Well In '06 - who'd have thought it? If Tejada really is on his way out, which I pray to God he's not, let's thank the man for his invaluable services to dancefloor engineering, and hope he's not quitting DJing, 'cos he's one of the best spinners I've ever heard. And if the whole thing is a hoax, well fuck him or whoever propagated it, but actually don't, cos 'The End of It All' is proper, proper good and I wouldn't have stumbled across it otherwise. Bo.
John Tejada - The End of It All // Palette
Just when you give up waiting for a soul-nourishing anthem, two come along at once. Truly, we are not worthy.
[EDIT: Clearly Tejada is not jacking it in. Curse you, whoever put that idea in my mind....]