- We do not live in a heroic age of dance music. In our scene’s grand historical narrative, disco’s language of sexual freedom and hedonistic release was dance music’s Year One. But it was black and gay Chicago house which, with its yearning spirituality and pervy druggy novelty, gave dance its cultural force, leading us into the sci-fi fantasies of techno and drum n bass, and then onward to trance’s dayglo hippie psychedelia. Recently, electroclash’s Euro-sleazy decadence and jaded fashionability have revived the old myths, but the neon glow has since faded and we’re left with – what?
We don’t have new stories to tell, new seductive promises to make or new fantasylands to conjure in dank basements or huge festival arenas. Some people agonise over this and come up with convoluted aesthetic and technical arguments about what dance music now means, but the reality is much simpler. It’s something we all know intuitively: this music is to dance to. But dancing is a simple word and a simple act that conceals vast crystalline caves of meaning and experience.
This music is the music that disconnects the brain from the equation, where sound leads directly to action and movement. The fierce joy of the experience comes from the detachment of watching your body react in ways that you’re not completely controlling – movement happens and you’re not sure where it came from. You can dance to other forms of music, but only dance music fully immerses you in dancing alone and nothing but dancing.
The point of lifting an artist above the many thousands making these records all across the globe is to show who can most effectively plug their quarter-inch jack directly into your motor centres and make you move in ways that you didn’t think you would or could. The trick is not in inventing new rhythms or new sounds or writing deep lyrics, unless those things are in service to that eternal kinetic experience. This is what we mean by talent.
My My have talent. In the best of their songs, every chime, every bleep, every tick and every thump can be directly expressed through movement. I’m not sure if someone who has never lost themselves on the dancefloor and experienced that abandon could ever see that in this music, but it’s there in its every fibre. Listen closely to the way that every sound that is added to ‘Eleventh Hour’ can directly translate into a physical act, and the complex beauty underlying what otherwise seems a very simple track becomes obvious.
Or feel the way that the gloriously unusual synth sounds on ‘Reverse Charge’ directly connect to the beats, not just sitting over them but integrated together in a flowing whole. There’s also the way that the fast undulating jiggle in the main line substitutes for what might be hi-hats on a less imaginative productions, giving that shoulder-shaking feel that prompts the most creative dancing.
There are gentler moments here too, like the sleepy euphoria of ‘Pelourinho’, but I feel that it’s in the fiercer grooves that this album really excels. The drums and effects on ‘Got It’ and their transcendent single ‘Serpentine’ attack you when you’re not expecting it, and make you want to dance all the harder to catch up.
This album and this artist exemplify to me why I love dance music and I urge anyone who feels the same to buy this record, though those who already follow My My will need no encouragement. The only thing wrong with ‘Songs for the Gentle’ is perhaps that the sequencing of the tracks is a little odd; the album doesn’t feel like it has an overall flow. But there are so many great tracks here, and we all know how to use the playlist function. Listen and remember that it’s not about hardware, software, vinyl, mp3s, UK, Germany, USA, minimalism or maximalism. It’s about dancing.
1. Clean Break
2. When It Rains
3. Eleventh Hour
4. Reverse Charge
5. Blue Skies
8. Half A Hole
9. Secret Life Of Pants
10. Got It
11. Serpentine (Album Version)
12. Swiss On Rye