Ke$ha stokes the fire with ‘Dance Commander’
“I AM THE DANCE COMMANDER + I COMMAND YOU TO DANCE,” Ke$ha (RCA)
In the ever-evolving music industry, some of the most successful performers are keeping fresh product out there with no apparent concerns about overexposure. Two of them, Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, are on nearly identical trajectories.
Gaga released her debut in 2008 (“The Fame”), followed about a year later with a complementary release (“The Fame Monster”) to create a “deluxe package” of the debut, in turn followed several months later with a 10-song remix album (“The Remix”). Less than a year after her “Animal” debut, Ke$ha released the complementary “Cannibal” to create a deluxe version of her debut. And now here she is, about five months after “Cannibal,” with a 10-song remix album of her own, “I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You To Dance.”
Like Gaga’s remix album (and most other remix compilations), Ke$ha’s is ... mixed.
“I Am the Dance Commander” comes out like a buzz saw with an apocalyptic “Cirkut Remix” of “Blow,” though a key bridge from the original is muffed and buried in this rendition. Next up: starpower, as Andre 3000 slides in with a guest rap on a retooling of “Sleazy.” An aggressive, banging “Untold Remix” of “Tik Tok” is irresistible, if nearly overwhelming in its deconstructed claustrophobia, while a second remix of “Tik Tok” — the “Chuck Buckett’s Veruca Salt Remix” — rides a thick wash of exfoliating sound.
Fans will be happy about the inclusion of a vulgar-titled (DJ-related), previously unreleased song popular at Ke$ha’s shows. On the other hand, they’ll be turned off by a thoroughly obnoxious “Switch Remix” of “Animal,” which is essentially euthanized by electro-shock.
“I Am the Dance Commander” is rounded out by traditional, club-friendly reworks of “Your Love Is My Drug,” “We R Who We R,” “Take It Off” and “Blah Blah Blah,” all of which preserve Ke$sha’s cartoonish charisma while beefing up the beats.
Overall, Ke$ha’s remix album is little more than a serviceable, and disposable, diversion while fans await her next move.
Rating (five possible): 3-1/2
Death doesn’t doom Deadlock’s ‘World’
“BIZARRO WORLD,” Deadlock (Lifeforce)
Sex has a way of making things more interesting.
Such is the case for Germany’s Deadlock, though it would be more specific to call it “gender dynamics” rather than merely “sex.”
The group, which fits in the seemingly self-contradictory “melodic death metal” genre, juxtaposes male vocalist Johannes Prem with female vocalist Sabine Scherer. And the two really couldn’t be more different: Prem is the obligatory monster growler with borderline-ridiculous rage erupting out of his shredded vocal chords, while Scherer is a singer in the true sense, with a dulcet voice and poppish emoting.
Deadlock’s angle is that Scherer isn’t around just to offer feminine backup to Prem; she’s there working out her own angst, not making his better. If anything, she’s the dominant singer — or at least the more memorable one. He might shriek, “Today is my day!” on the molten “Htrae” (which is “Earth” spelled backward), but really it’s hers. “When you open your eyes, you will find me in your state of decay,” she gracefully warns, embedded in the chugging high-voltage of “State of Decay,” while on “You Left Me Dead,” she gingerly pleads, “Just take me from this hell/You left me dead, dead as dead can be/Now come down and devour me/Till there is nothing left to see.”
The group’s four instrumentalists, which include producer/guitarist/keyboardist Sebastian Reichl, make the mix all the more interesting with prog-rock and techno flourishes that add dimensions to the expected guitar bombast, plus dramatic changes in the arrangements and time signatures so that the vocalists typically sound as if they’re performing different songs that have been mashed together (they rarely sing simultaneously).
Given the group’s strategy, the results aren’t nearly as messy as they should have been. And despite all the thrashing that rips through the release, it feels natural that it would end with a decrepit-piano-bar-suitable “Paranoia Extravaganza” that features only the vocals of Scherer, who gently sings, “The only one who knows what you do is your own shadow.”
This isn’t your kid brother’s death metal.
Duos team up for gentle ‘DJ-Kicks’
“DJ-KICKS,” Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap (!K7)
At first glance, the latest “DJ-Kicks” compilation from !K7 records may give the impression of a dramatic and potentially violent assortment of 27 songs brought together by two DJ duos — Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap.
To the contrary, it’s a collaboration between the two teams of Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine (Wolf + Lamb) and Gadi Mizrahi and Zev Eisenberg (Soul Clap), their electroni-chill music repeating a few signatures for a cohesive journey.
The collection is prodded by pulses that cruise on warm jazz/electronic rhythms, creating mesmerizing loops. Vocals, which are hardly obligatory, are altered — not Auto-Tuned, but chopped up and/or warped to downgrade their importance relative to the groove.
There are some 20-odd performers/acts credited for the 27 tracks, nine of which are exclusive to “DJ-Kicks,” yet the edges are smoothed out to make it a near-seamless 73 minutes of sound.
Sure, it’s a lot to absorb — more for the tedium of the redundant bits than for the seam-busting amount of songs because the producers rotate out most of the tracks in short order, with 17 cuts clocking in at less than three minutes and only seven lasting more than four minutes.
There’s a natural and unhurried build in momentum of “DJ-Kicks” as it plays out, the shimmering production trumping a few jagged points in the process. Noteworthy turns include a little teasing retro-syntha-funk on Soul Clap’s “3 Wheel E-Motion,” a “Lonely C” (by Soul Clap featuring Levine) that threatens to break out into a sleek cover of “Fever,” and a “Rough Patch” by Slow Hands that feels like warped Hawaiian disco.
Otherwise, the release is a gently churning aural wash that might get irritating as a primary point of focus but glides by comfortably in the background.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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