James Murphy wants it both ways. A walking encyclopedia of the underground scene, he loathes the narcissism and one-upmanship common among record-shop insiders. His NYC label, DFA, produced some of the most infectious dance singles of the decade thus far, yet Murphy turns down remixing work from Duran Duran and Janet Jackson (who called him personally), and ended a collaboration with Britney Spears shortly after it started.
He had better things to do, like pack dance floors with uber-chic indie kids who once considered themselves too cool to get down. DFA’s spidery hooks and funk-splattered bass lines are pure dance-punk, but the addition of rubbery dub and a lot of cowbells transformed them into club anthems.
Murphy’s own project, LCD Sound System, takes this recipe and runs with it. The eponymous debut double-CD (released last month) is packed with scorchers like “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” all hand claps and greasy bass squawks as Murphy details his preparation for the French electronica superstars (“All the furniture . . . is in the garage”). The track, “Movement” is like a drum machine fighting off a mosh pit with a shovel, while on “Beat Connection,” electronic tendrils intertwine over a one-note disco thud as Murphy chides club-hopping hipsters for their smug reserve: “Nobody’s coming undone/Everybody here is afraid of fun.” To Murphy, extensive knowledge of the music you love (in his case, The Fall, Chic, David Byrne and Detroit techno, for starters) isn’t nearly as important as your emotional response to it. In other words: “Music snobs, shut up and dance!”
With two programmers and live drums, bass and guitar, his traveling act may be the best dance band Japan sees this year, but they’re not afraid to slow things down with Beatle-esque love songs or ignite the punters with a barn-burner, either. Anyone who has witnessed the band !!! live should listen up, since both groups share the same bass player and an intensity that must be seen to be believed.
So what will your response be?