- Ever had one of those days when you wondered why you bothered getting out of bed in the morning. You know the kind: where your day goes from bad to worse then ends up ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that you don’t know whether to laugh or simply cry from frustration. Nothing goes right, everything goes wrong. And the people that cross your path certainly don’t make the day any better. I swear there are some people in Sydney that need to be slapped or thrown infront of a bus. Or both! On the best of days I’m not the most tolerant of others. When my day isn’t going all that well and people are adding to my frustrations, I just want to get back home, put on some music (really loudly) and pretend I have the martial arts prowess of Woo-ping Yuen. So what kind of music should I be listening to? Well, it sure as hell won’t be progressive house. Stuff pretty prog! I need something with punch, something with more guts, something that’s going to consume me and force me to forget my day. That something would have to be techno.
And it was on such a day that I discovered the twisted joy of “Devil’s Advocate” by Dave Clarke. I’ve actually had this CD for a while but I had forgotten about it. I buy so much music that more often than not I sometimes forget about CDs until I accidentally come across them a few months later when I’m actually looking for some other release. So on one of the worst days imaginable, I found myself staring at a black CD cover and trying to remember the last time I had listened to anything by Dave Clarke. It dawned on me that more than two years must have passed since his brilliant “World Service” compilation and I suddenly remembered how much I had enjoyed that CD. Between then and now, there have been so many DJs, so many producers, so little time to listen to everything that’s released. Especially if you work.
As is the nature of any artist album, there is always divided opinion amongst the fans. I’ve already read that some think “Devil’s Advocate” is brilliant while others think it’s nothing special. Each to their own. While I don’t think ‘brilliant’ is a word I would use to describe every single tune on this collection of tracks however, for me, it is quite special. I love the dark rumble of “Way of Life”. It grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go while the vocals just jump out and literally growl at you. The attitude laden vocals from Chicks on Speed only enhance the menacing urgency of “What Was Her Name?” while the upbeat bounce of “The Wiggle” slowly builds until the inherent rhythm levels out to become one of my favourite tunes on this album. With “Blue on Blue”, the musical structure is subliminally addictive, unfortunately the rap style vocals annoy me. For me, the thought of techno and rap just doesn’t sit well. But kudos to Mr Clarke for being a little bit different. As such, something ‘different’ can definitely be found in “Deo Gratias”. I’m intrigued with the continual build in this track. It’s very electro in nature yet still stays within the techno confines. Just when you think it’s going to explode into a bass infused scorcher, it actually finishes. This sudden finish will annoy some but I think this would be perfect as a lead in for a techno track that assaults your ears with a deep, pulsating bass. On another tip, it reminds me of music I would hear at the beginning of a movie during its opening credits. I love it!
Another favourite is “Stay Out of the Light” which is dark and murky, almost brooding in its beat. In some warped way, I could see myself slaying vampires with this track playing in the background. If vampires were real, of course. “Just Ride”, which is the next single to be released, bangs in all the right places and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a techno track. Personally, I would love to hear this in a dark, subterraneous club. In some way, I think I would lose my mind but in a good way. With “Dirtbox”, a deep, melodic bass can be felt and it’s beauty lies in the funk of the track’s rhythm. It’s completely different in nature when compared to the other tracks and more rock and roll than techno. On the other hand, “Disgraceland” has a punk attitude, which gives it a very cheeky feel. I love the throbbing bassline and once again the vocals by Chicks on Speed are used to enhance the track. “The Wolf” moves back to a more typically techno sound yet still has a uniqueness about it that grabs you. And before you realise it, the final track, “Addendum” is heard. According to the Macquarie dictionary, the meaning of ‘addendum’ is ‘an addition’. This particular track is an addition that “Devil’s Advocate” could have done without. Its minimal feel is very annoying and definitely not to my taste. But as I’ve said previously: each to their own.
Dave Clarke is one of the most recognizable names in dance music today. He doesn’t need any introductions. His inspirations are drawn from all boundaries of music, whether it’s techno, electro or hip hop for that matter. Yet his influences reach over almost every avenue of music today. Some of the biggest techno anthems, if there is such a thing for techno, can be found in his Red 1, 2 and 3. Yet strangely “Devil’s Advocate” is his first artist album since 1996’s eponymous “Active 1”. While this latest collection of Dave Clarke tracks won’t be considered groundbreaking, they are nonetheless quite inspirational. When the artist known as ‘Dave Clarke’ is great, he is truly brilliant! When he’s average, he’s actually above average. “Devil’s Advocate” is a combination of both and that’s more than what has been achieved by some DJ slash producers in the last few years. The overall feel of this album is obviously techno but the rawness of early 80’s electro plays a large influence as does the death embracing nature of goth and the violent speech of rap. When these elements are combined, a strong musical aphrodisiac is experienced. While the heavens didn’t open up for me and I didn’t discover a newfound understanding of religion (which is what some electronic dance music fans will sometimes expect from their hero’s artist album), what I did find was that there was music that could expend my violent frame of mind.
So did I snap out of my angry mood? Yep, sure did! Music, in any form, is a powerful sedative. And one that I’d rather be addicted to over any chemical hybrid. What one person may perceive as dull and uninspiring, another may see as brilliant and awe-inspiring. Some may listen to a particular track and all they hear is irrational noise. Others may hear the same thing and think they’ve just heard a symphony of angels. Music can be as diverse as it is similar and as experimental as it is structured. Aboveall, it is forever changing in one way or another thereby always interesting. And that’s why I love it so much.
I was once asked if there was any physical ability that I could do without. I didn’t even have to think about my answer. I could live without sight, without touch, without the ability to taste. I could even live without the ability to walk. But I would rather die than not be able to hear.
1. Way of Life
2. What Was Her Name?
3. The Wiggle
4. Blue on Blue
5. Deo Gratias
6. Stay Out of the Light
7. Just Ride
10. The Wolf