Old Des Peres - Preserved
Tue 7th Sep, 2004 Music Reviews 1547 viewsin
Not to be foolishly confused with “Dead Prez” (I was in a hurry okay), Old Des Pres are a Melbourne live-tech trio consisting of Kyan Robinson, Kiron Robinson and Michelle Sorbello a.k.a Luva DJ, well known for their distinct style of on-stage craziness. Reading Kubikle-kittin’s recent live review I was a little hesitant sliding the CD in, “a burlesque be-glittered and very pink Luva DJ brandishing a feminine flail; a rapper/trucker type in whites and an enormous blow up clock a la Flava Flav; a bleach-blonde Japanese beauty complete with gas mask, gloves and Marilyn move”.
Whilst carrying a lot of this (in)famous live energy across, “Preserved ” is not simply an album of over the top MGF flavoured excess. What we have here is an strickingly mature, at times touching debut release where an understated Detroit sentiment wins the day over brain numbing decadence. Think of the best moments from Felix’s Kittenz and the Glitz and mix in the intricate soundscapes of the Avalanches and you have in your hand one of the most original, interesting and thoughtful Australian releases this year.
We begin with a dark edged post-clash number in “I like Prada”, a deep and dirty washed out drumbeat that’s the calm before the store as the monotone Miss Kittin vocals continue through the booty-tech of “Gloriarse” (no hints given away here guys.) There’s a nice bouncy (!) feel to this one whilst still maintaining the seductive minimalist vibe. “Leaped High” takes a lot of inspiration from The Avalanches “Since I Left You” and in particular “Stay Another Season”, with an airy piano loop giving this number a real cocktail party vibe.
“No Empathy” is aimed squarely at the dance floor with an up-front bass driven sound dominating one of the heavier tracks on the CD. Plenty of sample action on display here gives you an image of their live antics. “Roller Groves” is one of the stronger tracks on the disc, a really understated keyboard jam with some subtle backing strings smoothing off the drum’s rough edges.
There’s even a hilarious little interlude track titled “Sometimes I get confused but then I forget”, a sort of role reversal interview skit tackling the female DJ cliché. “Eating Drinking” takes the thumping techno-trash/thrash of Peaches and couples it with some interesting synth work but there is a distinct lack of inspiration on show through this middle section of “Mercy” and “Soya Bean”. A few of these tracks really could have been dropped for the sake of consistency because at 15 tracks long things do start to lag at this point.
Proceedings hit the funky breaks on “Erotico Poverto” and the tempo is turned up a notch. Some very over the top sleazy guitar effects gives makes this one of the funkier tracks on the disc. Very danceable. From Nu-breaks to experimental down tempo and a dark, brooding piece of environmental ambience in “Thanks Iannis”, some stunning instrumentalism creates a truly unique sound on this track as Old Des demonstrate their more thoughtful side. Very contemplative.
“Box with Holes” and “Gawdo” take a more traditional approach to the genre, with healthy amounts of percussion ruling the day underneath a cover of loopy synth madness.
You’ve probably all heard “Pitbull Terrier” once or twice over the past few months, it’s got that “sonicanimation” trademark bigbeat+big voice combination that Triple J seem to consider the future of Australian electronic music. Featuring the vocal stylings of J Walker this is quite clearly Old Des’ most accessible track, e a catchy standalone breaks track but where it fits amongst an album of largely tech/electro tracks is a bit questionable.
“Will you wear that new dress” finishes the album off in serene downbeat (nobeat) fashion, this really is a beautifully constructed piece that seems to leave a question unanswered, akin to a movie leaving room for a sequel. This is a track that bears striking resemblance to Underworld’s similarly haunting “Skym”. Old Des Peres are a group that show a lot of maturity here with their debut release, breaking free of the style over substance gimmick tag and delivering an album of thoughtful, well written tracks over a broad spectrum of styles from straight up tech to electro to breaks and hip hop and back again.
Expect to hear a lot more from these guys over the next year and if you get a chance to, get out and see one of Australia’s most innovative and entertaining live tech outfits.