DJ Lance Lockarm – “Lose Yrself Fitter”

The notion of The Voice in pop is a long standing Freaky Trigger/NYLPM obsession – just check the archives if you don’t believe me. Little thought seems to be paid to the matching of voice and music once the initial work of forming a band (or grooming an artist) is done. Form follows function, or vice versa. They guys in Creed and Staind sing the way they do because Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder (or the guy from Foreigner) did; you wanna play grunge ballads, go with what works. “Expanding” the role of the voice seems then to either be a dog’s dinner or a very, very slow process of refinement.

So at the one extreme you have someone like the Red Krayola, who believe that any vocal (or more accurately any text) can be matched to any music, Ma(y)oist polemic over cod disco-funk or soulful crooning over nasty garage rock or whatever. Occasionally it works, but more often – like a lot of art rock – it’s like a failed lab report, two solutions suspended between each other. At the other, new styles of singing are really points in a continuum: a direct line can be drawn between Otis Redding and K-Ci & Jo-Jo, although you’d be hard pressed to see it in isolation. (Then there’s the outright experiment – Thom Yorke chopping his voice to fuck-all on “Kid A” – and the inspired one-off – Robert Wyatt’s out-of-time bleached mahogany.)

One of the best features about our much-maligned modern Pick’N’Mix culture is that – with the cycles of recycling shrinking every day – the inspired mutations are sticking out and the lame ones receding into the depths of faddish memory even more quickly than usual. So, as Tom pointed out, DFA finally found a working platform for those parched indie yelps, twenty years after the fact. Bootlegs — essentially being the ephemeral crap of bored middle-class computer geeks — shrink those cycles even further, if not obliterate them altogether. Bootlegs do away with the ‘form follows function’ rules at the outset — usually to their detriment — but they also do away with the continuum, so long dead styles — vocal or instrumental — are suddenly reanimated, given new purpose.

‘Lose Yourself’, in it’s original form, blew it when it determined that Eminem’s rabble rousing AOR rap had to be matched with music as turgid as AOR usually was. This boot reanimates the words — which really are invigorating despite overexposure – by linking three alt-rock instrumentals: Smashing Pumpkins ‘Cherub Rock’, The Cure’s ‘Primary’, and Sonic Youth’s ‘Titanium Expose’. (Which, despite seeming incongruous and ‘wacky’, actually form a rather complex new song: grungey opener, punk-funk bridge, careening avalanche rock ending.) Totally ‘tossed off’, despite the obvious work involved, it magically provides a context — one he or his handler’s never would have seen or had the guts to try – for Em’s most ‘rock’ performance yet, while almost making you forget the whiny gurgling, goth poesy, and beatnik affectations of the originals (as good as they can be.)