Friday, October 15, 2004

Mu, Dead Combo, Colder, Circlesquare / Canal Room / Oct. 14, 2004

Output Recordings is one of those labels I’ve always meant to learn more about, but never got around to it. So I figured that CMJ is as good a time as any to do this sort of thing, and headed over to the ultra chi chi Canal Room for their showcase. The college radio nerds in jeans and t-shirts clashed nicely with the sleek décor and waitresses in pleated mini-skirts, and I was glad I wasn’t there on a regular night. Circlesquare were performing as I arrived, and though I’d never heard of them before, I immediately pinned them as what I like to call “dead fish electro”, meaning completely emotionless. Which can be totally fine on record, but live it tends to fall flat. This was two dudes in white suit jackets chanting slogans over minimal New Order tracks. For a really long time. It reminded me of Black Box Recorder’s performance at last year’s CMJ. If you expend all your energy trying to convince people that you don’t care, well, eventually they stop caring about you, too.

Colder suffered from this same dead fish disease. I like the record, but would it kill you to move around a little bit while you talk/sing? This dude, French producer Marc Nguyen Tan--joined on stage by a full band—has one of the most accurate names in music right now. Cool, cold, colder. Brrr, your attitude is giving me the sniffles. Nguyen was clearly nervous (from where I was standing I could see his hands shaking), which only made it worse. How can you pretend to be better than me when you’re obviously afraid of me?

Dead Combo wants to be Suicide soooo bad it hurts. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Although their cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” is way better than that horrible M. Ward version, but that isn’t saying much.

Thankfully, the night was redeemed by the fabulous Mu. Baltimore house producer Maurice Fulton and his Japanese wife Mutsumi Kanamori make frightening, fucked up electro that is anything but cold. Dressed in a white shirt with tassles on the boobs, a catholic schoolgirl kilt and fishnet stockings, Kanamori made Karen O look like the chick from Mazzy Star. She flung herself across the stage like an acrobat, shimmying, kicking, cartwheeling and pulling her hair, all the while shrieking like a cat in heat. Fulton’s thundering beats sounded like war drums coming out of that soundsystem. And I guess the performance was kind of a war. A war against dead fish.