- Rare are the DJs with such a strong offstage persona as Caroline Hervé, a.k.a. Grenoble’s own electro’n’techno ambassador Miss Kittin. Music itself shouldn’t be judged solely accordingly to what surrounds it, obviously, but she has worked so hard for an entire decade at cultivating her intransigent image—she has even got the creator of Emily the Strange to do the artwork for Batbox—that it is hard to avoid it nowadays. But Miss Kittin is not quite the cold Detroit techno S&M vixen everyone somehow wants her to be. Sure, with the Hacker, she fits the mold and that is very fine indeed, as displayed on their recent ‘Hometown/Dimanche’ single, but on her own, she occupies an ungraceful and uncomfortable middle ground between Chicks on Speed and Ellen Allien, and Batbox, unfortunately, won’t really do anything to change that nor rally anyone to her solo career’s cause.
‘Pollution of the Mind’, for instance, might be the album’s hardest and most immediately enjoyable track, but at the same time, it (regrettably) sounds exactly like what the Hacker or David Carretta have been producing for the past ten years. Yes, they all helped in creating and popularizing that very sound, but you’d be right to expect some sort of improvement or, at least, a new take on that same old stinky template. Fuck, it could even be a Mount Sims track, and even though that is not a real problem as far as I am concerned, I can see why it would grate a little for others.
‘Playmate of the Galaxy’, on the other hand, is totally effective melodic techno, but the vocals, both in terms of lyrics and delivery, are trite and heavily affected: moments like that make you wonder if Miss Kittin’s productions wouldn’t paradoxically benefit from a weaker character and less domineering sense of self.
As for the title track, it is simply nothing short of embarrassing. Weirdly enough, first single ‘Kittin is High’ works well, but mostly because I have come to it through the Jojo de Freq and Black Labelle prism, who both offered broader remixes a few weeks ago.
One thing is certain, Batbox is more aesthetically coherent than 2004’s I.Com, and it’s probably due to the fact Miss Kittin is in full-on producing mode on all of the tracks (instead of having Tobi Neumann, for instance, showing her what buttons to push here and there). But truth be told, nothing on it will truly make you want to lick Frank Sinatra’s ass. Actually, I am not even sure it is worth a flying rat’s ass.
01. Kittin is High
05. Barefoot Tonight
06. Play me a Tape
07. Pollution of the Mind
08. Wash 'n' Dry
10. Machine Joy
11. Sunset Strip
12. Playmate of the Century