Record Reviews

Desperate Pleasures

Left of the Balearic heatwave-with-a-Parklife-vibe, there’s a pocket of dance culture that exists on Australia’s fringes. [Chet Faker](/releases/2001021) and [Michael Ozone](/tv/4524873) are among them and Tornado Wallace’s Desperate Pleasures* is another example from Melbourne’s pub party scene. As a house/nu disco producer inspired by *The Simpsons and that sonic glare that you can really only get a sense of in a hot country, Lewie Day’s sound shares the same hang-loose attitude of LA artist and producer Eddie Ruscha’s [Secret Circuit]( project, also on New York label Beats in Space.

Not only that, but the EP’s garish artwork is done by another Californian, [Steven Harrington](, the music bearing a lot of similarities with the heat-induced delirium of its bleeding tie-dye colour schemes and an element of naivet? when it comes to exoticised cultural cherrypicking.

There’s still some of the ?post-PC? attributes that are dubious, as Day’s press release refers to its sound as ?laser-guided, ethno-hypno, eco-lectro jams,? coming most explicitly in ?Okavango Delta?. Library record samples of wild animals and hooting loops are seemingly a reference to the African swamp region of Botswana. But as Day explains, this is ?music for darker times in the warmer climes, because where there is sun there are shadows? and he does draw an interesting link between the traditionally urban sounds of early house, techno and Kraut and the primal beginnings of humanity.

One imagines a cosmic alien sashaying down a Miami boardwalk, maracas in hand, the lost possibilities of ?70s futurism behind him as analogue synthesisers keep ?Space Tropics? charmingly trite. Those samples from the Dark Ages of cultural archaeology in ?Okavanga Delta? are a perfect supplement to not only its own conceptual exoticism, but the ?otherworldliness? of Tornado Wallace himself, as a producer far removed from the European and US centres from where he draws his initial inspiration.

There’s a reason this sort of music is so anomalous and, perceivably, so hotly sought after by the dark and chilly basements of Berlin nightclubs and Detroit dancefloors. Because, even if you made this kind of music in an Australian freezer, the heat always has a way of getting through, creating a sense of its own artificiality and making it far more interesting in the process.

Here, palm trees and melting sandals bounce off the popping rhythm of a pinkish sunset and silhouettes in ?Desperate Pleasures?. Its closeness to ?80s mutant disco is as inextricably linked, though wildly different, as Nick Cave and his band of private school boys were to punk. There’s a liberating aridity to Desperate Pleasures, its skeletal layers and sparsely constructed motion evoking a psychedelic desert trip channeled through the blue light of a plasma TV, with Homer Simpson as its muse.