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Dat Politics - Plugs Plus

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Artist: Dat Politics

Album: Plugs Plus

Label: Chicks on Speed

Review date: Jun. 19, 2002

Given recent blunders, I had to think twice about the propriety of combining the words ‘sex’ and ‘children’ to express a single positive opinion. While such a cocktail is notoriously toxic to our tenuously affiliated Church and State, it’s but a complex carbohydrate to the realm of Art and Letters. And whether or not it’s overtly conscious of this perilous temptation and its social and psychological consequences, all serious art serves to remind its beholders of their own moral and physical precariousness. Then there’s escapist art—compelling not because it challenges our human capacity, but because it provides a preferable illusion instead. No less valuable than the probing stuff, escapist art describes its neuroses by exclusion.

That said, DAT Politics’s fourth album Plugs Plus is more Hello Kitty than Death in Venice. Its rendition of innocent sex excludes the historically ubiquitous psychological implications that the greatest scholars of pedophilia – from Petronius to Vladimir Nabokov – astutely perceived. And while the album certainly has an adult conscience, it’s not a narrator, but rather a promiscuous phantom that drifts in and out of the party.

Generated by a trio of frenchmen on laptops, Plugs Plus is governed by the digital maxim of retention and renewal. The beginning of each track is often a throwback to a previous beat. But as with a computer, the present field of information is engaging enough as to obliterate all conceptual memory of what came before. The advantage of these “epileptic micro-rhythms” (as Chicks on Speed, their label puts it) is the mechanical support they provide for their emotional content. However topically disparate, the wandering beats and vocal accessories on Plugs Plus are united by their mutual engagement to the tinkering factory in which they labor.

And a happy sweatshop it is. The third track, “pie,” which features Blectum From Blechdom, is daft as a birthday party in early June. There is a bit of a meltdown in the fourth and fifth tracks, as if a hamster got caught in the gears of the machine, which resolves itself soon enough. Meanwhile, in the interim, the persistent beat is trespassed by a band of intruders: a sleazy stranger beckoning “Salvina, Salvina”, a chorus of robots, and other mimetic murmurings from Lesser, the track’s artist in residence.

On the seventh track, from a voice that has smoked just enough cigarettes to reveal their toll without sounding repulsive, we hear a lady, lonely and hot, compliment someone’s ‘yeux’ (‘tout bleu’). The address arouses only Junior Birdsmen attention from among the constituents: the rest are too busy jacking off to their arcade music to do anything but scramble and dub the voice of their admirer. In general the girls on Plugs Plus talk dirtier than the boys, suggestive of a kind of feminine precocity particular to eighth graders and French films.

Thus, the album’s innocence relies on a kind of prepubescent energy that betrays its implicit maturity. From their decision to layer twinkling Nintendo noise over an optimistic organ (that instrument best employed by Stereolab to delay an orgasm) to their final bombastic closure (Kid 606 impersonating a stiff professor’s closing remarks) Plugs Plus is at least covertly cerebral. But mostly it’s just party music of the highest order, a compact and vicarious scene without troubles, if you don’t listen too carefully. And I’m not sure you’re supposed to.

By Hillary Mintz

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