[10 January 2007]
So, wait, you’re telling me that the latest album by LCD Soundsystem is only available as a download from iTunes and that the music was commissioned by Nike? At first blush, this pairing of post-electroclash indie rock and globally dominating athletic apparel seemed odd to me, too. Until I remembered that I work out to DFA Compilation #2 all the freakin’ time, and that DFA Records is run by James Murphy, and that James Murphy essentially is LCD Soundsystem (along with some touring musicians). And, apparently, Murphy is a runner. Now it all makes sense. On paper, anyway. But how does 45:33 perform where it matters most? Let’s road test this baby! [Roll video of reviewer jogging out front door, decked out in Nike running gear, wriggling earbuds into place, and grinning with a hearty thumbs up; cut; fade back to reviewer finishing run, breathing hard but appearing blissfully content.] Man, that felt great! Well, okay, it was physically bearable and mildly restorative, anyway. Hey, thank god for endorphins and the music of LCD Soundsystem.
After beginning with a rubbery, stair stepping, rapidly accelerating, cosmos-wandering bass line, a spare beat and skeletal piano enter at 63 seconds into 45:33: Nike+ Original Run. We’re still warming up here, stretching our legs, getting the blood moving. A couple of minutes later, a disco beat kicks in. We’re moving now, but it’s nice and easy. Loose. Here come the vocal samples. “Your love away from me”. The complexity builds with added percussion and syncopated rhythms. The straight beat is still the foundation, but our run has gotten nicely funky here, folks. Oh yeah. A little after hitting minute nine, the melodic loops fall away. But, like a good trance mix, the drums remain as a new passage begins. More electro and less soulful, the synths are squelchy and the mood focused (although the twinkling glockenspiels lighten things up nicely). Later, this mutates into a dense, !!!-ish dance-rock jam, culminating in squealing horns. Then the pace picks up like crazy. At 29 minutes into the track, you’ll be glad for this. Phew! But the end is within reach. If you thought you were going to have to run all 45 minutes, you’ll be delighted to find that your cool down begins abruptly at 37:30. And, man, the music really chills out fast. During the remaining minutes of astral dreamscaping provided by Murphy, you’ll be tempted to stop in your tracks, lie down, and fall asleep. This, however, would slow your heart rate down too quickly and, in all likelihood, you would die (maybe; consult your physician). So, keep walking for just a few minutes more, despite the soothing and pretty tones swirling through your mind, trying to convince you that you’re at a day spa with cucumbers on your eyes. Ah, so relaxing.
Aside from this odd, falling-off-a-precipice pacing problem at the end, the music serves its purpose extremely well. And, as a listening experience, the sudden change isn’t problematic at all. Yes, that’s right. As a huge bonus, especially to you couch-bound fans out there, you can listen to this record without putting on your running shoes. It is simply another great LCD Soundsystem album, period. Mostly instrumental, this epic-length single track makes for a perfect complement to 2005’s excellent and song-oriented self-titled CD. At work, cleaning house, in the car, or on the treadmill, 45:33 is your new soundtrack to all these activities. Oh, and if you can think of any other worthy application for this funky non-stop groove, well, just do it.