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Various Artists

Pickadoll's Mixed by John Dahlback

(Pickadoll; US: 15 May 2007; UK: 14 May 2007)

D’you reckon it’s a contraction: Pickadoll is, or the possessive, implying These are Pickadoll’s. Stupid question, right -– probably the latter, but what label apart from Dahlback’s own would really embrace this MOR ‘90s-trance revivalism, really? So, yes, Pickadoll’s, nominally a label compilation, is pretty much a vehicle for young Swedish DJ John Dahlback to lay down his rave-inspired trance-house bangers on an unsuspecting listening public. Of the fourteen tracks on the disc, 8 are by Dahlback himself, with another three by Mark & John (a collab between Dahlback and Mark O’Sullivan), giving the whole thing the feeling of a promotional item rather than a true-blue mix. Well, the narrow artistic range confers continuity, at least. In the very first track, “Leave the Breadcrumbs”, a blueprint for the whole: video-game synth atmosphere; emergent (and thenceforth ubiquitous) thump-thump beat; cut-away for glowstick interjection; rebuilt to classic tech-house climax. Today, this music’s aggressively retro, with none of the deadpan electro or – forgive the thought! – overdriven heavy metal disco á la Ed Banger. The trouble is, these looping, static sounds become relentless; even tracks from other artists like Ozgur Can seem picked to adhere most closely to this previously established blueprint. You might catch yourself, midway through one of these big synth riffs, thinking you’d just head a snatch of “Zombie Nation” – but there’s nothing that catchy. Dahlback’s “Kingkong” is at least different atmosphere-wise, with multiple-hit synths in the midrange providing a stuttering, but still propulsive, feeling. But tracks like this are exceptions. Pickadoll’s gives us, mostly, little more than by-the-numbers beats and trancey, blipping synths. This hard-edged trance has its fans; but for the rest of us, there’s little to draw listeners in a non-party context.

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Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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