Okay, so the Michael Myers character in the photo above is a little creepy. Don’t let that or Padded Cell‘s asylum soundtrack name trick you into thinking they’re tailor made for goth clubs and S&M parlors, though. Described as “devil’s disco” by some after a string of stellar singles (from 2005’s “Signal Failure” right on through this year’s “Savage Skulls” 12”), Neil Higgins and Richard Sen formed to make nothing but future-forward dance cuts, a “response to the conservatism of early millennium dance music.” And what do you know–they actually achieved that goal again and again, constantly turning up as ‘must spins’ on such DJ sites as Turntable Lab.
It’s taken the duo three years to unleash a proper LP, with the track selection split between edit versions of previous singles and a bottom-heavy host of new cuts. The edits are especially helpful for Serato DJs with short attention spans, as they hone in on the essential elements that made each track an underground club killer, from the wailing sax that fans the flames in “Faces of the Forest” (think a kidnapped James Chance, told to, “Play, motherfucker, PLAY!”) to the steady groove that sends “Are You Anyone?” into a hyper-speed direction from the start.
As for the mixed-and-minted new jams, they reveal just how well Padded Cell works in either a house party or headphone setting. “Word of Mouth,” for one, is a perfect pop tune–a single the Rapture should have written for their last record (ChloÃ© Battant basically sounds like a female version of Mattie Safer), or at the very least a mid-tempo, melancholy-free version of the Chromatics. “Beautiful Gloom,” on the other hand, imagines the same sinister disco soundscape as some of Zombi‘s early records. The ones that don’t sound like George Romero tributes, at least.
Now get on your favorite Fangoria-approved mask and get dancing.
THE LISTENING BOOTH …
[audio:http://www.self-titledmag.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/01%20Savage%20Skulls.mp3] “SAVAGE SKULLS”
[audio:http://www.self-titledmag.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/04%20Word%20Of%20Mouth.mp3] “WORD OF MOUTH”