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Live NYC 05.31.02 / 06.01.02 – The New Deal

Sound and Light Recordings 02

What took so long for the hemp-ridden patchouli-soaked dreidels to finally
unite with the light-stick wielding, plastic rainbow necklace jamming
bouncers? Translation: Why didn't the jamband fans discover techno's
insatiable beat and lengthy expositions years ago? As in some ten years ago?

In the Warehouse district of San Francisco, back in 1992, techno and dance
music reached some sort of social zenith. Some Deadheads actually wandered
over to these shows, which became the ultimate post-Dead show extravaganza.
On a chemical level. a link existed, but — on the rhythmic level – these
Deadheads also found a communal scene with lengthy musical tracks as the
foundation.

But the movement of the jamband fans on a national level never arrived,
likely a product of techno's inadequacies then the public's simple
ignorance.

Maybe Haddaway's "What is Love" – which became a Saturday Night Live skit
with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan nodding their heads inexplicably to the
"un-tit, un-tit" of the techno beat – potentially explains the slow
acceptance. Hell, I know why I ran away from "raves" as fast as I could.

Nevertheless, on a musical level, a band like the New Deal has potentially
remedied what may have been lacking in techno for many years, in spite of
Eminem's fatuous statement "Hell no, nobody listens to techno!" or Will
Ferrell's damn stupid skit. In mixing live instruments with techno's
inexorable beats, the New Deal has in many ways melded the improvisational,
melodic qualities of jazz with a genre where repetition can start to create
a migraine. In other words, their latest live release – Live NYC 05.31.02
/ 06.01.02 – reveals a palatable agglomeration of Herbie Hancock's
Headhunters and William Orbit.

What the New Deal has mastered can best be explained with vehicular
parlance: "downshifting." On disc two, the June 1st performance, in the
middle of a bombardment of bass and drums, a languid, open piece begins
titled "Into the Deep Sun." Check out past releases by the New Deal, or
visit a club, and such passages and moments are – or have been – entirely
neglected. It has nothing to do with offering oxygen to the bouncing masses
as much as it signifies a necessary tempo change to stave off redundancy.
Likewise, the change allows the trio to more patently inspect textural areas
that the same salient beat often neglects.

With the art of "downshifting" implemented, Jamie Shields' keyboard effects
and style becomes more musical. In most techno, the melodies gestate rather
slowly, and often leave a spectrum of possibilities from a jazz perspective.
Not that the New Deal has suddenly transformed into a jazz trio, but Shields
does appear more intrigued by chord structures and melodic augmentation to
counter Dan Kurtz's relentless bass drive, which – above all else -keeps the
band squarely techno.

Certainly there are banal moments on Live NYC 05.31.02 / 06.01.02
which sound like they belong in a Mitsubishi commercial. However, these
problems are simply an irreconcilable part of the genre and how it has long
been perceived. Lucidly, the New Deal's two-CD set offers a concise
explanation for why techno has become greatly appreciated. Ironically, it
took three musicians mimicking electronic beats and samples to reveal the
genre's mettle.

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