Friday, 17 September 2010

Deee-Lite - Infinity Within (1992)

World Clique may have been dance-pop utopia, but Deee-Lite still had territory to explore on 1992's follow-up Infinity Within, an album that scarecely gets positive reviews and yet technically improves their overall sound even if the tunes don't offer the same involuntary jerks to the senses (ie, it's hungry for proper club juice). I will never be able to put into words the satisfaction this band give me, but whilst putting on this CD I decided to thrash out what I can only try to call a review...

Eco-friendly jungle beats of I.F.O (Identified Flying Object) is F.Y.I (For Your Information) no Deee-Lite's Theme that is for sure, but foxy lady Lady Kier could read the phone book and still sound like a sex-crazed tranny so it's no surprise that purring about fax orgies is more than enough stimulation to get me moist for deeper insertions.

I don't have a problem with Runaway, the album's lead single, but the album version sounds infinitely flat compared to the house-beat pumped up radio edit. Radio weren't listening and Kier herself had lost her sense of humour a tad during interviews (cue fan waffle):

(one particular youtube clip conveys the immense goodwill felt towards this band and shows that reaction quickly diminished somewhat by her only-slightly difficult responces, which they turn around of course, but it still serves as a valid point to be made. To crudely praphrase, Kier herself later admitted they were too serious in this era).

Chic with horns, the slinky and flambouyant Heart Be Still is the album's most rousing orgasm. Should have been the album's first single. With a bass sprouting like an afro, the organs shimmy and boy does Kier gurn - 'ahoo-woah, where I go, no one knows!' is nervous overload. With a groove that feels like life, 'I feel weak when you do speak, like a rollercoaster at it's peak' has even Kier feeling powerless to stop herself getting off, sighing seductively in sultry defence 'your charm grabbed me by the arm'.

Pop without the fizz, I Won't Give Up was the first song Kier penned lyrics to as part of the group. Perhaps they had kept it in the fridge until then - it doesn't taste fresh (Smile On tossed up the same ingredients with more vigour), but it's digestible enough. The only song that actually sounded better on their 1996 compliation album Sampladelic Relics & Dancefloor Odities, remixed by future memeber DJ Ani. I would fall asleep here if it were not for the fact that they don't have enough songs to discard anything.

Swiftly forgetting that one, Vote, Baby, Vote is their equivalent to an interlude and was used as a commercial to get young Americans to vote. Franky, their campaign really shows up Madonna's are-my-gays-here-to-make-me-look-rebellious counterpart.

Tasty keyboards with beats traced back to the flashy clicks of clubccentric jewels such as World Clique and Good Beat are found on the sadly more laid back Electric Shock. 'Move your body, feel the music' is probably writer's block, but the pulsating groove is thick-not-fast and injected with a dribbling bass ebbing with their flow, plus it is spiked with the same sizzling keyboard and trancey inflections found on fan-favourite What Is Love?.

Despite Kier's mad, shrieking soul mama shtick of 'damn that's my jam' and the best African chanting since Dannii Minogue saved world hunger with her anthem Hakuna Matata, Two Clouds Above Nine is just a slightly more snappy and emphatic twist on the same formula used on I Won't Give Up. There is no denouncing how good it sounds, but if you're wanting a song to actually sing then this ain't it. 'Slip off your views, take off your mind' shows the band still full of eccentric charm.

Pouncing at you kindly ('kiss me, you fool' indeed), Pussycat Meow is one of the daftest songs they ever recorded and still sounds ahead of its time almost 20 years later. Vampish and vivacious, Kier rarely sounded this unquenchably lost in music. Worth seeking out are the sleek and purr-fectly indulgent, extensively extended edits to be found. Proof that this band are uncoverable.

Given a hard time in most reviews, I Had A Dream I Was Falling Through A Hole In The O-Zone Layer actually functions as a more-than-just-solid album cut with Kier's vocals reaching rapture, and a piano leaving its own trail of guilty fantasia. 'We breathe the future, and yes we're choking' sure makes a change from 'your groove I do deeply dig'. It's equator-stretching middle-8 is a delight in itself - 'come on, give a damn and take a stand'. 'Convenience is the enemy' doesn't refer to its duration - it's very worthy of all its 5:39 entirity, and has stood the test of time surprisingly well as originally I wrote this one off as a kill-joy.

Tunneling deep with a sensational mechanic funk-grunge plunge, Fuddy Duddy Judge is my balls-out favourite song here. Kier's going off on one about abandoning our social concious in favour of convenience, and every lyric is to be tasted like savouring a glass of fine wine.
'History is a matter of opinion'.

Skippy dance doodle with more organs than the Red Cross, Thank You Everyday is literally a walk in the park for them. The single package, with all sensational remixes done by themselves, saw a series of irresistable coda's in each of them and is an essential purchase I cannot recommend enough. Rising straight to the very top, this is a pop masterstroke. Reverberating 'hi-higher, hi-higher' with dashings of darting piano keys and other flavoursome tastebuds of melody all making it a trifle deee-gorgeous.

Below: Thank You Everyday (The Spirit Mixes Parts 1 & 2)

The jumpy rhythms on Rubber Lover make it endlessly superior to, say, Christina Aguilera's Elastic Love. Taut, ribbed, probably flavoured and beyond frisky, even the bass sounds so tight it could snap.

Perhaps they could have been stricter, Come On In, The Dreams Are Fine is my first choice above Two Clouds, but they have 3 songs all skipping to the same vibes. With only 3 studio albums, I'll clasp onto everything I can get from these guys, but at track 13 I would have kept this and made I Won't Give Up, Two Clouds Above Nine, this song here or Electric Shock into faster dance-that's-my-jams or else B-sides.

A tantalising Kier transcends her disco delivery and smoulders into a screen siren chanteuse on Love Is Everything, the only ballad they ever recorded (Deep-Ending was disco veritgo not a ballad), exploring love's lust, rapture and agony. Vintage Mariah, Christina, Amy and all those other tramps can't sing like this.

I try to not overuse the word, but this is an album of 'jams', yes thank you Mam, Kier. I might not want to dance to their experiments (there is sensible binge drinking for that), but the Chic-lite fizz of Heart Be Still, the cutesy pounce of Pussy Cat Meow, the guilt-provoking grind of Fuddy Duddy Judge, the intense gyration of Rubber Lover and Thank You Everyday's sunkissed breaziness are almost rare-sounding flourishes of their inimitable skyward, deformulized disco determination at its best. Even the piano downer Love Is Everything is divine. Dance if you want to, I would just call it brilliant noise. The inevitable focus on Lady Miss Kier is well-deserved and then some but the autuer Towa Tei really raised the bar with his elegant conceptions being equally as ripe, and it's just a shame that there were not 2 or 3 Good Beats to sell it to the Groove Is In The Heart crowd. Not as songful as World Clique, it is definately more artful. The songs themselves are simply more open-ended than before, which is probably why both Thank You and Pussy each have multiple climaxes and glorious re-edits that sound just-as-good-if-not-better, essentially being the same elements simply re-arranged or stretched and teased into something gunkier. Grooveful, lighthearted and with serious verve.



Mike said...

Dee Lite are one of those acts that I admire - and always get a semi when they pop up on my iPod -but there are massive gaps in my collection. Like this opus. I'm glad the general consensus that this is rubbish is incorrect. I will track down a copy post haste!

Diva Incarnate said...

Get it cheap or I can just send you it. Anything you don't have by them and would like let me know of course.

It's such a pity they all hate each other now. And wasn'y Dimitri quite the dish? He's not now of course, but nevermind..

QH said...

This is my favorite Deee-Lite recording, and one of my favorite pop albums period.

What I like about this group is they stick to the true pop principle of change, there are so many styles and genres within their work, they appeal to so many. This album boasted features by Digable Planets, Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins, cHUCK d (of Public Enemy) these were/are major players in the fields of hip-hop, jazz, R&B, & funk. That stands to the testament that Deee-Lite wasn't just a one-trick dance pony.

I disagree with "I Won't Give Up," as for me personally, the album version has this really whipped, creamy, cool summer late morning vibe. I just close my eyes and drift.

And...I love that they were socially conscious, again disapproving that all pop acts have nothing to say, & they still had feel good stuff. Not sure if you know, this was also the very first digi-pak, or paper sleeve, in popular music when this disc dropped. Again, nice work.-QH

Diva Incarnate said...

Can you believe Lady Kier has about 3-4 albums she's just looking to find the people to release (any of) them with?

If I find the link, one of her official pages, I will send it to you.

Infinity Within doesn't have something as immense as Good Beat or ESP here, but it's a denser record, and Pussycat Meow is impossible not to fall in love with. The Thank You Everyday single issued us with some great alternative mixes.

I really wish Towa never left - Dewdrops was a fantastic record, but it's in need of a little trimming here and there. River of Freedom is quite possibly my favourite Deee-Lite song. I met Kier once, but have told the story so many times.

Her solo song Me & My Records - have you heard it? The live files are on youtube, but a studio version never surfaced tomy knowledge (it must be about 6 years old now!).

Very frustrating to have a talent like Kier not releasing more music.

QH said...

I like Kier to. I feel like this group was the preface to The Black Eyed Peas, in terms of the "catch all" vibe they have. Except Deee-Lite is talented, that barb isn't reserved for as a producer though, in that arena he is top notch.

I didn't know Kier had recorded on her own, she's from my state, Ohio,you know? Tell me the story about Kier, I haven't heard it, lol!-Quentin

Diva Incarnate said...

I think we've talked about the Black Eyed Peas comparisons before, or rather I agreed with you (especially with E.S.P).

My story isn't much, but basically she was DJ-ing on the same bill as Marc Moore (S'Express), and I went on my own to this club to catch a glimpse of her (something I never do), and when I got to speak to her I was telling her my love for Fuddy Duddy Judge and River of Freedom before calming down a bit, we danced for about 10 seconds to Theme From S'Express, and when I told her I had to go as had work the next day she told me to stay where I was and poured me a vodka cranberry from behind her booth. It was pretty awesome. There were a flock (or should I say clique?) of I presume gays who were speaking to her after me, and one sort of gestured to my cheek. I immediately rubbed it, and little did I know I was rubbing off her lipstick (damn!).

QH said...

Aw, she seems sweet. You made me pull out "Dewdrops in th Garden" & spin it after my run last night. I forgot how much I liked "Bittersweet Loving," "When You Told Me That You Love Me"...etc. They really do rock, fun story. See? Ohioans, as Ms. Kier proves, are nice folks, lol.