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Artist: Locussolus

Album: Locussolus

Label: International Feel

Review date: Jun. 13, 2011

Locussolus’ self-titled debut sees the venerable DJ Harvey (not to be confused with the equally British Polly Jean H., who his own sobriquet precedes) flaunting his credibility for the forces of good. With decades of participation in renowned vinyl-focused scenes, including as both DJ and producer of New York disco and house, at the Ministry of Sound club in London, and most recently at West Coast warehouse parties, Harvey has no need to hew to trends in order to get attention. His many admirers will tune in no matter what he does.

If Harvey is house’s answer to a tenured professor, on Locussolus he exploits his position exactly as a senior faculty member should, doing the work he trusts is best without concern for validation. If his free spiritedness is in doubt, the reader will kindly refer to the following interview exchange, deeply deserving of a reprint:

    Tell me about the Rwandan Ice Cream project– that sounds very rewarding.

    It is amazing. Basically a group of Rwandan Holocaust survivors came to New York to learn how to make ice cream, and they brought their drums with them. They are part of an all-female drum band, and I’ve produced a CD for them. The proceeds are going to Rwandan charities so it’s been an absolute honour to work with them.

We are blessed who can do what we love.

Now, Locussolus is seven genuinely endearing tracks plus a few mixes/edits. The songs are hooky but mellow – the Kraftwerkian ideal, though that band’s stamp is less audible here than, say Funkadelic, or maybe even Weather Report. Most of the songs are between six and nine minutes, which counts as pop song length for the intended audience. Not beating around the bush, every song is a winner, full of candy arpeggios in the bass and dorky aerospatiality on the high end. Boastful, inane mixed-sex dialogues (“You want it / I got it / I want it / You love it”) are on almost every cut, except those on which Harvey rambles even more inanely all by himself. On Andrew Weatherall’s remix of “Gunship,” the free-associating producer announces that he “[Sees] two cans of SPAM … that ain’t two cans of SPAM, it’s two honey glazed hams!” and so on, among other wasto-gems. It’s charming to realize how much fun he obviously had getting stoned in the studio and doing automatic poetry until something workable emerged.

That approach matches the tone of the productions generally, which make no secret of Harvey’s dedication to the gestures of erstwhile take-you-higher dance culture. A lack of restraint about influences without a doubt benefits the music, which might otherwise become self-serious or self-conscious. The album is neither.

Locussolus, though, is a bit more than Harvey enjoying himself infectiously. The use of Big Guitars in particular, is at worst different and at best bold. By Big Guitars, I mean full solos and heavy psychedelic riffs that form the backbone of several songs. “Professor” Harvey teaches small seminars at the elite liberal arts college of tasteful dance music, where guitars are largely out of fashion, but thankfully he keeps them on the syllabus. Locussolus keeps everything in balance masterfully.

By Ben Tausig

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