There's a non-specific genre of music, a kind of easy-listening that's seemingly become so bland and inoffensive it can slither it's way into high street boutiques, designer boozers and thirty-something dinner parties...bizarrely at odds with how 'urban,' sexual and edgy it once set out to be...
Reflect on Tricky and his darkest of materials, consider how he's unwittingly soundtracked a thousand dinner party conversations about birkenstocks and farmer's markets...accompanied by a robust Chilean Pinot Noir and a drizzle of truffle oil...and perhaps a 'naughty' spliff in the kitchen.
Or, dig (if you will) the picture of a 'hip' urban bar, an industrial themed place in a newly gentrified plot of town, all cocktails and banquettes, a cigar room and... Hark! Isn't that Goldfrapp's latest clot of crispy tissues?
Casting my mind back about a decade and there I was working in a bargain bookshop....the manager was off (having liposuction of the head) so I blissfully took control of the shop stereo...off goes 'We're Pan-piping Xmas' and on comes the first Portishead album. Hard to believe how 'out there' it once was...I'd just had a 'naughty' spliff in the stock room and was bumbling merrily around stacking shelves, feeling all Gen-X and subversive, as Ms Gibbons emoted like a sick harpy over those underwater beats...thinking "this'll freak the punters out, but care not I, for I am the pompous postgrad student in jobslum nirvana"...and up comes this old wifey of about 70 asking where she can get the 'canny' music that's playing? Curses, foiled again!
Could it be that the underground has become the mainstream? Or that the ascent of irony-boosted easy-listening has elevated the inoffensive to the hip? Or do bars, shops and restaurants simply need subdued but cool background music and there's nowt wrong with that? Or are all of the named artists just great 'cause they have the gift for melody and commercial suss that is the basic prerequisite of pop success? Or has Patrick Bateman morphed into Nathan Barley? So why do I still like it all? Is just that I'm getting old? And shouldn't I have written this crap about eight years ago when it may have still been relevant?
Affirmative to all of the above, gentle reader...and while I'm at it, may I commend to you the latest Thievery Corporation platter...off the wonderful 'The Cosmic Game' soundtrack to buying the missus a handbag. Can't help loving it...as international a blend of sounds as you're likely to get on one album...Cape Verdean singers and Indian percussionists ply their trade alongside big name guests like The Flaming Lips and David Byrne, all contributing to the multicultural din. That's Perry Farrell in there too...he's talking about a revolution, you know...
Mmmm....is this veal organic?