Liaisons Dangereuses

Liaisons Dangereuses

Liaisons Dangereuses

Hit Thing

I told my friend Julian that Hit Thing had just reissued the Liaisons Dangereuses album. I had no idea what it was, except for a little help from the press notes that connect the album to the bizarre Kraut-Dance music made by the already unfairly obscure DAF. The description starts off by referring to the album as, “probably the most highly anticipated electronic CD reissue of all times.” This is exciting and troublesome, considering I hardly have any context in which to place their music. Julian, of course, says, “Oh yeah, they’re great. When I was in these Parisian dance clubs in the early ’90s, all the Goth chicks would totally get into that stuff; it’s really weird. Have you ever heard the Conny Plank/Annie Lennox release?”

Apparently Plank produced the last Eurythmics album, and half of Can is on it. Pretty strange. Thanks to Plank, I can actually appreciate some things about this release. Conny Plank was every bit the genius that any great American or Experimental producer (or, whatever hipster we’re lauding this week) is. He has even been considered the Phil Spector of kraut-rock. Yet, he’s only like Phil Spector if those telephone books they were stomping on in the studios were made out of gelatin. Most of kraut-rock owes itself to Plank, as does some of Devo and Eno’s best work, and the Alexander Von Schillpenbach album that was reissued on John Corbett’s Unheard Music Series not too long ago. Plank also did a DAF album in 1980. A year later, Liaisons Dangereuses, was released.

Lauded by club music innovators like Derrick May, the music has a distinct sense of being something special. The hard beat, progressive and eclectic instrumentation, multi-lingual ranting make a nice sell for deeming the album a perfect combination of the progressing dance music culture of the time and kraut-rock experimentalism. Removing this album from its social context allows the listener to hear so many surprises, so much thought in the production, so much that seems so inexplicable.

The children’s voices and bizarre yelps and crashes that you , at first, write off as rational production choices, seem completely unpredictable by the time you reach the Brotzmann-esque noise saxophone blaring on “Etre Assis Ou Danses.” The next track is filled with metallic guitar scraping that again emphasizes Liaisons Dangereuses’ affinity for avant-garde noise music, subtlety engaged on the same level as their forward-looking beat-oriented electronics use. Hysterical laughing and exaggerated voices on “Le Macho y la nene”; a beat on “Dupont” gets gradually annihilated and arrhythmic, as almost Ives-like swells of other electronic music complicate and clutter the music. Each track is truly a different experiment. Even with the most progressive avant-garde music today, over the course of 40 minutes an artist tends to hammer in some redundant points. Liaisons Dangereuses is a completely lean release. By the closing track, the group senses that they might be forced to repeat themselves. To head it off, the album abruptly ends. After all of the 3 to 6 minute abundantly rich songs, the title track just cuts off, after only a minute and a half.

Julian tends to tell me romantic stories about music. Maybe gothic French girls were dancing to this stuff in the early ’90s. I just wonder where they are now. I wonder who has the courage to revel in the time they spend with this consistently unsettling album.

Hit Thing:

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