Moonwalk To Afrika

Scott Woods says, "I hear a certain dirtiness in techno that I don't hear in Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk's a well-oiled synth next to the Chemical Brothers' and Leftfield's clangy old garbage cans." As if in response, Leftfield on their new album put a deliberately Kraftwerkian synth melody onto "Afrika Shox," along with space rays and robot voices. They also put a deliberately Bambaataaian vocal, provided by Afrika Bambaataa himself.

And "Afrika Shox" is great. I actually far prefer it to "Planet Rock," to which it self-consciously refers back. "Afrika Shox" doubles the emotion and drive. It's less interesting in its beats than the Baker-Robie stuff of old, less a playful runaround, but the hard-dance-with-a-backbeat rhythm here surely propels this one. There's beauty, fun, excitement, large-barreled harrumphing—whatever I mean by that. Bambaataa's way of conjuring/calling forth to the heavens? "The year 2000 is on the way, some say-The year 2000 has been here since yesterday." Whatever he means by that. Has been here in our imagination?

Looking for the perfect faucet.
photo: Chris Ottaunick
Looking for the perfect faucet.


Rhythm and Stealth
Hard Hands/Higher Ground/Columbia

The rest of the Leftfield album, Rhythm and Stealth, is quite excellent, though I've promised to be at a loss for words about it. Most of what I'd say is along the lines of, "some pulses, then an electronic drum beat comes in; the fact that it's a drum, rather than a pulse, kicks the music forward." But perhaps I need to say it with emphasis: "You see, the fact that it's a drum rather than a pulse kicks the music forward!" Or "radio waves follow the massive beat; now the massive beats withdraw in deference to the radio waves." "Clangy old garbage can" is only one of Leftfield's sounds, of course, and it's a nice resonating dirt, a dignified clang. Other sounds: a deep noncardboardy bass but with a "box-like" aftertaste. (I'm not at a loss for words, just for the right words.) The beauty of a wooden bar hitting another wooden bar in rhythm, to a slight echo. And so forth. Rhythm, clang, beauty.

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