Saturday, February 20, 2010

Felix da Housecat - Kittenz And Thee Glitz (Original TC Review)













Emperor Norton: Cat. # ENR 70472
Released June 2001

Track List:
1. Harlot (intro) (3:10)
2. Walk With Me (4:10)
3. Voicemail w/Miss Kittin (0:47)
4. Madame Hollywood (2:51)
5. Silver Screen Shower Scene (4:40)
6. Control Freaq (5:11)
7. What Does it Feel Like? (2:36)
8. Happy Hour (5:02)
9. The Enter View (1:14)
10. Glitz Rock (3:40)
11. Analog City (1:18)
12. Pray For A Star (3:54)
13. Sequel2Sub (3:50)
14. Magic Fly (3:00)
15. She Lives (3:03)
16. Runaway Dreamer (3:22)
17. What Does It Feel Like? (Röyksopp Return To The Sun Remix) (6:59)
18. Silver Screen Shower Scene (Thin White Duke Mix) (8:34)


(2010 Update:
Possibly one of the breeziest reviews I wrote. I honestly didn't anticipate it turning out the way it did. This was a case of me writing everything that immediately came to mind, and even if the idea was wacky, I ran with it. Not exactly a 'gonzo' review but definitely unconventional for us at the time. Hey, it's fun to read, ain'it? Oh, and the album still holds up excellently, as its inclusion in so many 'Best Of The 00s' EDM lists can attest to.)



IN BRIEF: If the mods had an 808...

It's time again for another edition of Trendsetting Albums: Do They Hold Up?, folks. This time, our glorious host, the straight-edged, gives-any-music-a-chance-provided-it's-not-CJ-Stone host Sykonee takes a look at yet another of the electro house movement's pioneers. Up to the plate is the album that practically set in stone the template for the genre we still hear today: Felix da Housecats Kittenz & Thee Glitz.

Hard to believe it's been half a decade since this was released. It doesn't feel that long ago all the underground hipsters were going apeshit over the raw, rocking analogue sounds coming from Felix and his compatriots (Electrikboy, Dave The Hustler, Miss Kittin, Junior Sanchez, Tommie Sunshine, Melistar, and Harrison Crump all lent their talents to this project). Yet here we are, five years later, and this music has been given the official stamp of mass-popularity approval thanks to Madonna's latest album. Now even your mothers can discover that awesome wicked cool sound you were gushing over in trendy clubs just after the turn of the century.

For no better reason than my electroclash camp was firmly with Tiga's Turbo label (and by association International Deejay Gigolos as well), I initially never jumped on the Felix bandwagon until after the hype died down. Of course, I'd heard some of the big singles but hadn't felt it necessary to pursue his material when I'd had The Hacker, Vitalic, DJ Hell, and so on to fill my needs. As such, I'm diving into Kittenz & Thee Glitz fresh. Let's see if time has been kind to the Muzik Magazine 2001 Album Of The Year.

And Harlot, billing itself as an intro track, is an encouraging sign of things to come. The mood is slinky, the synths are stuttery, and the rhythm is energetic. Only trouble is these elements rarely line-up together to form a standard song. Okay, fine, it isn't really trouble since this is an intro track (why blow your load all at once, right?), but it is a substantial tease, making you beg for more like it. With that in mind, Harlot is probably one of the most effective intros I’ve heard in a long time. Can't wait to see what's next.

Deep house, it would seem. Only... it's not. Structurally, Walk With Me has all the trappings of deep house -laid back rhythms, soulful lyrics, unobtrusive backing hooks and pads- but the sound patches are in a completely different world. The pads are a warm analogue synth, the percussion is perfectly suited for techno, and the lyrics are finely filtered into robo-land. Of course, at the time this was produced, these tricks had already been in use in numerous other styles of EDM. But deep house? Felix would have to be quite cheeky to tamper with that sacred genre.

Following a voice message from Miss Kittin, we're thrust into the two huge singles from this album. Since everyone's undoubtedly heard them by now, I'll just move along. Eh? You want some commentary from me anyways? How about I never really cared for these much. Sure, they're undeniably catchy, and Silver Screen’s march-a-long rabble rousing nature is irresistible on a dancefloor, but I personally feel it was done better on this album.

Happy Hour -now that's the one (yes, I know I'm going out of sequence; bear with me on this). It's structurally similar to Silver Screen but is a lot more fun. The fuzzed-out bass has some actual melody to it, there's great analogue synths, and the lyrics are a hoot! C'mon, I dare you to resist singing along to "808s, gives you power" as that beat throbs in the background. Happy Hour should have been an even bigger hit than Silver Screen. Why wasn't it? Probably the Miss Kittin factor had something to do with it. She was the rising starlett at the time, so her collaborations would get more attention. It's a shame, too, because I actually kind of prefer Melistar's sultry voice to Ms. Herves deadpan delivery (dammit, did it again!).

As we go further into Thee Glitz, I'm beginning to wonder where all the '80s revival theme' music journalists at the time were proclaiming made up the bulk of this album. Yes, there's plenty of 808 drum machines and analogue synths being used but only as a sound source. The musical styling, however, feels more like mod than synth-pop.

Another thing that strikes me is the diversity of all these songs: house, techno, soul, rock, italo. Every track borrows from a different style and is given an electro gloss-over without abandoning the substance of their attributes. With this much variety on hand, I can see why the music media was so quick to lump Thee Glitz into the electroclash camp -there's just no easy way to shuffle this into a tidy genre.

And that, my friends, is the mark of a great album (yes, I also know I’m not detailing all the songs anymore; just continue to bear with me). When a producer or team of them can craft an album that defies easy genre-fication, spawns tons of imitators, and still manages to sound fresh after the fact, you do indeed have something special on hand. By leaping across all sorts of scenes, Kittenz & The Glitz has created its own little bubble that exists outside of the trends of time. It sounds just as relevant being a part of the electroclash movement as it would have were it part of the mod rock movement or synth-pop movement. And it will undoubtedly be required listening for whatever the next post-modern hipster movement will be. Pick this up to be ahead of trends before they even start up again!

...Or better yet, just pick this up because it is a great collection of songs that, barring any production miracles in the electro house scene this spawned, will probably never be matched again.

Hmm. That kind of wraps up this review nice and tidily, doesn't it. It'd be redundant of me to go back now and detail all the songs like we normally do so I'll introduce my patent pending Interactive Review here. It's quite simple: I'll give you a selection of words, and you can arrange them however you see fit to help me describe my reactions to the songs on this album.

Step 1:
Choose from one of the following styles of music:
House
Techno
Soul
Mod Rock
Italo

Step 2:
Add Electro as the prefix.

Step 3:
Choose from one of the following words I felt describes what I heard in this release:
Awesome
Sweet
Rocking
Smooth

Step 4:
Add Fucking as the prefix.

Have fun!


Score: 9/10

ACE TRACKS:
Happy Hour
Glitz Rock
She Lives


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2006 for TranceCritic.com. © All rights reserved.

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