[20 June 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Forthwith, the lyric of the song “I Want It” by Harvey Bassett, aka DJ Harvey, also recording as Locussolus. Picture Harvey’s leathery cool voice alternating with an enthusiastic female admirer’s:
“You waant it?” “I waant it!” “You waant it?” “I waant it!” “You loove it?” “I loove it!” “You loove it?” “I loove it!” “‘Cause I got it…” “You got it!” “I got it?” “You got it!” “You waant it!” “I waant it!” (Together:) “I LOOOOOOOOOVE it!”
This hook is a defining landmark of 2011 music that people will remember, through the heat haze of their sodden debauchery, for many years. In much the same way that they’ll remember a particularly racist bit of graffiti on the bathroom wall, or the exact angle at which a potential amour flirtatiously held a drink while being chatted up by some douchebag, people—I’m not saying who, just people—will remember screaming along with the hook of this particular Locussolus 12”, their hands aloft. It’ll be the screengrab from the Youtube video of their minds. That’s assuming they hear it.
“I Want It” is the grooviest song on the Locussolus album, which collects three of Harvey’s recent 12” singles, along with the new tune “Bloodbath” and four remixes. Actually, the Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas remix of “I Want It” out-grooves the original. It pretty much out-grooves anything you might hear this year, sounding as it does like the Chemical Brothers’ “Galaxy Bounce”, which everybody knows was the grooviest song on the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider soundtrack. Now, Harvey’s original “I Want It” is a fine piece of work. It’s got dramatic clouds of synthy portent bursting over a pop-locking electro groove that recalls Material’s 1981 “Bustin’ Out”. But the remix swirls the original into inspired realms of bouncy lunacy. It adds three minutes of running time, honky-tonk piano, cheesy organ, and a hilarious climax that includes a horn section playing Shocking Blue’s “Venus”, of all things. Essential.
The rest is less so, but still a heck of a good time. “Next to You”, the flipside of “I Want It”, features a slow strut of a beat and a synth breakdown that sounds more like an Atari breaking down. A female admirer sings wispy come-ons while Harvey offers to eat his shoe in his suavest Right Said Fred croon. It’s the true sound of chillwave. “Tan Sedan” plunders the deathless sound of Canadian Italo-disco group Lime, with Harvey looking for some loving in minor-key desperation as arpeggios gush around him.
Harvey makes his share of downtempo tunes, though he never sacrifices momentum or cool sound effects to do so. “Bloodbath” doesn’t exactly sound like a bloodbath, but it does have ominous white noise in the background, a repetitive three-note chirp, and ruminative strums out of Morricone. The bloodbath, you see, is taking place in the workroom of the lonely leather-clad DJ, his tools analogous to those used by the serial killer, his life a matter of careful planning and steady nerves, his hands always in the right place at the right time. (Harvey used to kill ‘em at the Ministry of Sound.) And “Throwdown” gets the “One of These Tunes Is Not Like the Others” award for most idiosyncratic track on a dance album. Specifically, it sounds like an Oasis ballad. Not a bad one, at that. Pretty chords, some weird guitar throb, and it makes for a nice change of pace.
Harvey’s dry British smirk is plastered across the very notes and beats of his disco music, so it’s ironic that the most annoying song here is also the one that goes for out-and-out laughs. Andrew Weatherall’s remix of “Gunship” has Harvey leering at “thickums” and pontificating about “big girls” and their “two cans of Spam”. Regardless of whether you dig the sentiment, a little of his unhinged drooling goes a long way. Aside from that nadir, Locussolus is varied, body-moving, and endlessly listenable. It’s also full of personality—no matter how far Harvey stretches his instrumental grooves, he can’t hide his cheeky sense of humor. I like his beard.