A brother in poetry rang me up late yesterday afternoon. “Hey man, I’m… I’m having a hard time with all these people dying. It’s got me down and out.” Jebus.. So you called me? What makes you think I have any useful advice? “Ah.. You know.. I just wanted to talk to someone.”
I’m getting more and more phone calls like this one of late.
They say Death be not proud, but over the past few weeks, that shithead must be proud as a motherfucker. The grinning, mad skeletal bastard has been in overdrive of late, and I’m not taking chances. This is being posted from an undisclosed location: My inbox pinged this morning with a friend request from someone named Eddie Muerte. I’m not saying it’s suspicious, but all of our mutual friends are ex-parte. If you catch my drift. Unless black robes and scythes are in fashion in San Juan this time of year? Something shady’s goin’ on.
I turned forty-four a few days ago. Given the whiskey soaked pallor of the morning after? A certain chill in my bones was all but inevitable. But when I dragged my hungover bag of meat to the thought-screen, insult added to self injury as I was greeted with the news that while I was out knocking down shots of Tullamore – David Bowie was breathing his last. Happy fucking birthday to me.
Then it was Rickman. Within the past little bit the Grande Olde Ghoul has been reaping indiscriminately, plucking up icons of my imaginary youth. Grizzly Adams. Trapper John. Nat’ Cole. Scott Weiland. The hits keep coming. Is this what it means to survive? To grow older? That you look up from your own bullshit one morning and realize that you don’t recognize anyone anymore? This is the prize we get for living?
I want my fucking money back.
One of the first clues that you’re starting to get a little long in the truth is pretty women calling you “sir.” The second? Someone asks if you want to see a band you don’t know – and when you look ’em up you find out they’ve been around for fifteen years. Granted, I’ve spent the last decade grinding up the Blues into little lines on my coffee table for freebase consumption, but you’d think somewhere in between Son House and Charlie Patton I’d find time to have listened to a Ratatat album. On the other hand, my working knowledge of electronic music pretty much begins and ends with Daft Punk, and I’m almost of the opinion that once you’ve experienced the helmeted heroes of High Techno – anything else in the genre is probably a ride of diminishing returns.
That said, young minds. Fresh ideas. Etc. Etc. Ratatat is coming to the Norva this Monday, so I take a few minutes to pull them through the magic tubes to pre-familiarize myself with their newly released album: Magnifique.
From the initial sound of a metronome clack, clack, clacking – only to be knocked off the top of what to my ears is an actual piano – to the haphazardly slapped in guitar: It’s quickly apparent to me that Ratatat is not your father’s Ambient. There’s analogue components to their vibe that form an immediate declaration. Ratatat is first and foremost a band, and that’s not usually the case in this genre. There’s a reason we tend to refer to purveyors of Electronica as projects instead of groups.
The music reaches me despite my general aversion to the form and within minutes I find my ass shaking a bit. This is not something that has happened for many years. I may need to see a doc in the morning to make sure I haven’t damaged myself. There’s a strange sense of nostalgia kicking around the underpinnings of the songs on this record. Something akin to a recognizable anthem of people I don’t actually know or have any direct exposure to, but that I feel like if I hung out with I’d likely have a good time. I think this is probably very decent music. But should you fork over an Andrew Jackson and some change to see them live?
I’ve never exactly been sure who this kind of music is for, you know? Like, what type of person listens to electronic ambient trip – whatever that has no lyrics to it? What the hell is the point of this album? By the fourth track the answer pulls up in a chromed out Fiat 500 and slaps me with the obviousness:
Some people just want to fucking dance. Maybe it really can be just that simple. Maybe I’m not that old after all? Maybe Eddie Muerte can right fuck off.
Bowie would approve, I think.
Ratatat @ The Norva. 8pm. Monday, January 18th. Tickets are available here.