Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Top 10 of the Decade - fourth entry

Hiem – She’s the One
(Matthew Jonson Circles in Time remix – Crosstown Rebels 2004) (series growing here)

I knew about Hiem’s schlocky Sheffield take on song-based electro dance from Corky putting their Chelsea on one of his CD compilations. It was an abrasive, underproduced number, overlaid with spoken word about the reet headfuck that is the erstwhile local girl, which the NME described as ‘like Cabaret Voltaire collaborating with Mike Skinner, or John Cooper Clarke fronting Fat Truckers’. Then some months later my mate Steve gave me She’s the One, out on Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels, as part of a batch of 12s for a present, back then when we still just about considered such accumulation of 12s vaguely important (so if you’re going to get me anything I’m going to strongly emphasise that it should be black plastic, don’t worry I’ll reciprocate with similar, it’s that or a DVD, etc etc). He said head straight for the Circles in Time rmx by Mathew Jonson, an up-and-coming producer fond of a Detroit classicism or two. My love for this was so immediate and desire for the moment so satiated that I’ve only just listened to the original A-side for context for this article, I’m ashamed to say.

Dance music’s appeal may be all about the extended plateau of pleasure bought about by repetitive beats, but iteration within that framework is essential. It is only ever the same in rockists' ears, while ravers know the tune and perception of it are ever changing. Here, the first phase is a low-key stroll with the vocals (again, about a girl, this time ‘loved by sycophants’ who could be ‘the love of my life’) to the fore and a robust synthesised electric bass maintaining the momentum if not defeating the melancholic air; good, but only serving to counterpart what comes next.

My love for this song, or rather its remix, is centred on two areas, the build-up of the second phase of intended dancefloor ignitionwith the different percussive elements (some on reverb) and ominous keys stalking the soundscape. Then within that the few bars when, after everything else has been laid on, a new, Detroit bassline comes in heralding we’re nearly ready to go and my body coldrushes with delight. When that happens, even on repeated plays, not to mention repeated plays under review conditions for this series, I don’t care whether this sound is too techno for the time, too reverent to established mores, too fashionable, not fashionable enough, not esoteric enough, too cliquey, not street-wise, whatever – everything fits to propel me forward to the end of the track. Anyone with similar musical loves to me would go for it, but then that’s obvious due to this being a top 10 of my favourites; no need to write timid justifications for my liking of each tune when a little on why they can be so illuminating is much more pertinent. Circles in Time succeeds for its brilliant, dramatic use of dynamics.

Crosstown later released Hiem’s Zombie Eye. There is a lack of coherent articles about Hiem online, perhaps reflecting their position just under the radar of cool, their unwillingness for their militant electro to be co-opted into the mainstream, or the fact that they have not established themselves as magazine-friendly ‘electropop’ or producer-centric ‘dance’ (they say they are weighted to the former). But it looks like Hiem are still going, along with David ‘Bozz’ Bozzwell’s solo project (he also fronted Sheff’s All-Seeing Eye), and he and Nick could have an album out soon. With a producer such as Jonson at the helm, it could be a finely crafted thing.
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