- The A-side of Guillaume Coutu Dumont's latest is such a damned insistent groove, it's quite hard to imagine how you might resist dancing to it. You might call this relentless funky house, powered by chunky, driving hi-hats and a punchy snare, something like rhythmic brainwashing, except that the beat is not speaking to your brain at all. As befitting any high-class body-mover, Dumont's number directly bypasses the cerebral cortex for some un-chaperoned quality time with the body. The beat seems completely indifferent to the concerns of the listener: whether or not you like house music at all, or dancing, or if you're tired and want to go home. Of all Mr. Coutu Dumont's recent output, it's "I Was on My Way to Hell" that's the most directly fun, friendly and cathartic, which is saying a lot for such a clearly party-time invested individual.
Then the vocal creeps in, an extended "I'm a sinner"-style preacher sample. Over on the mml ssgs blog a recent post was dedicated to the recent uptick in such "preach-a-pella" tracks, and how the use of preacher vocal samples jacked into deep house's two emotional poles: joyous, collective celebration on the one hand, restless soul-searching on the other. But the attraction of using a preacher sample isn't only that its passionate confessional intersects with reasons why people want to get together in a dark room and move around. A preacher's voice is also a magnificent, versatile instrument, and Guillaume puts it to serious work here: it speaks but it also hums and sings, rolls and wavers with stirring, dynamic vibration. In the instrumental spaces, the filtered oscillations of the vaguely acidy synthesizer that floats over the drums seem not that dissimilar from the idiosyncratic warbles of human speech.
The preacher winds up his rollercoaster sermon by calling out "I need someone to deliver me!" which is kind of a wonderfully paradoxical thing to hear in a club, where chances are you're doing at least one thing that your Sunday schoolteacher would disapprove of. But that's always been the alluring danger of music in general, one that dance music is pretty good at utilizing. You can never completely make music into a therapeutic cure-all, because it's a drug no one can control. So while you're hearing a self-proclaimed sinner urgently cry out for release, at the same time beneath it you're getting an aural dose of something which may do the trick, or it just may make things worse.
The flip, "Can't Argue with Silence," is a much-minimized counterpart to the big-boned, swivel-hipped A-sider. The drums themselves are chilled and passable, with sixteenth note shakers and a clipped clap. The beat's job here is to provide a restrained backdrop for the tracks' centerpiece, a fantastic, deeply ethereal string section with strong Indian-classical inflection that wafts in and out like a lost ghost. It's quietly counterbalanced by weird burbling ephemera that resemble cassette flutter, and which reinforce the orchestra's murky, hauntingly imperfect fidelity, a spectral emanation from some dark and distant plane.
A I Was on My Way to Hell
B Can't Argue With Silence