February 19, 2009

Test Spin: Hercules and Love Affair

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Brooklyn DJ Andrew Butler has assembled a ragbag of co-conspirators — including, most prominently, Antony Hagarty — to cobble a throbbing dance album, which references ’70s disco, ’80s pop and ’90s house, as well as our current decade’s indie rock. But the sound never seems nostalgic; instead, it evokes the giddy decadence of a late civilization that is happy to create something entirely new out of the ruins.
In “Blind,” Antony’s voice of frayed silk laments the disillusionment of age while the techno beats layer and accelerate, creating a simultaneous sense of reckless abandon and emotionally abandoned wreckage. More upbeat, “Hercules Theme” has a funk rhythm and a ska-inflected brass section that back Nomi Ruiz’s swoopy vocals.
“Roar” samples breathy moans over a charging beat that builds and modulates, layering synth echoes and Doppler-effect sounds of squiggles and buzz. “True/False, Fake/Real” plays with a cappella, calypso and bubblegum pop hooks. The song features simple dueling keyboard sequences with dramatic brass in the background, and even a typewriter clacking, which is left to type a few lonely words at the end. Hopefully, however, this won’t be all that Butler and company wrote.