- James Murphy's always worn his influences with pride, ever since the self-mocking "Losing My Edge" raised an ironic eyebrow at his muso credentials. For FabricLive.36 he and LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney dusted off tracks that have shaped their band's aesthetic, not least "Beginning of the Heartbreak / Don't Don't" by Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra, which topped and tailed the mix. Eager to repay his debt in full, Murphy has released this retrospective of avant-garde composer/saxophonist Gordon's career, which has spanned 30 years and countless sonic adventures.
"Heartbreak / Don't Don't" is the thread that runs through the collection, which opens with the 1979 original and closes with Gordon's recent redux, calling in a reprise along the way. Overlaying abrasive no wave noise onto cheesy disco, it's impossible not to draw a line directly from this to LCD's treatment of modern dance music. Roping in David Byrne, underground guitar hero Arto Lindsay and singers borrowed from minimalist composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, hipster magnet Gordon was to the late '70s downtown scene what Murphy is to post-2000 Williamsburg. Elsewhere, collaborations with performance artist Colette (as Justine and the Victorian Punks) presage Nancy Whang's call-and-response vocals on what seems like 90% of all DFA releases, and on "That Hat" Arthur Russell and New York Doll David Johansen lay down the blueprint for the stark paranoia of Less Than Human-era Juan MacLean.
The proto-punk funk that props up the first half of Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra should satisfy DFA heads, with the semi-instrumental "Extended Niceties" and "Roses on the Disco Floor" providing interesting enough diversions for their wonky disco sets. But it's the wild experimentation that comes after the Victorian Punks have picked over the bones of Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra that astound the most. "Iago's Escape" twists and turns through shuffling clap-beats, intense strings, operatic vocals and moody organs, while "That Hat" gives Herbie Hancock's Future Shock a shot of the psychotic, with Russell's cold melancholia undermining Johansen's bad-James-Brown ranting, with Gordon's sax squalling all around.
Without a hope in hell of representing the long, winding career path of a composer whose other work includes live video/music/theatre performances, the Desperate Housewives soundtrack and a jazz tribute to James Murphy's adopted hometown of Brooklyn, the DFA man has wisely focused on what Peter Gordon means to him and his fans. He was there in 1977. He was there in NYC when LOLA first played disco to the no wave kids. Yet more proof that he's not losing his edge.
01. Beginning of the Heartbreak / Don't Don't
02. Extended Niceties
03. Don't Don't (Reprise)
04. Roses on the Disco Floor
05. Justine & the Victorian Punks - Still You
06. Justine & the Victorian Punks - Beautiful Dreamer
07. Iago's Escape
08. That Hat
09. Another Heartbreak / Don't Don't