10 Years, 100 Songs: #94. “[WEEEEOOOOWWWWOOOOOOOOEEEEOOOWWWWWWW]”
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 11, 2009
To me, it’s all in the title. In instrumental dance music especially, you’re fairly reliant on a good title for meaning, since you don’t have lyrics to give your song any sort of context. And when I think back to most of my favorite instrumental dance songs–Orbital’s “Chime,” Josh Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness,” Pigbag’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag”–they all have titles that, one way or another, tilt my perception of the song to give it a kind of attitude and intent that they might not have had otherwise. You get a title like “I Feel Space” and it tells you just about everything you need to know about the song before you even put it on–it’s going to be a pulsing, near-hallucinogenically sensuous experience that will, alternately, make you feel like you are traveling into another galaxy, and make you feel like your brain is expanding in dimension.
I couldn’t tell you terribly much about Lindstrom (really, solo act Hans-Peter Lindstrøm), having never actually heard any of his/their albums, except that they were one of those underground dance acts that always seemed to be there in the mid-00s–remixing someone, getting remixed by someone, making DJ mixes or being included on them, coming out with new albums or new edits of old albums or what have you. (A quick scan of their remixography on Wikipedia reveals almost a who’s who of the big blog/dance crit acts of the time–Annie, LCD Soundsystem, Sally Shapiro, The Juan MacLean, even Franz Ferdinand). I was never enamoured enough with their stuff to pursue them out too much, except in the case of “I Feel Space,” which felt something like an event, a crowning achievement for the decade’s dance music from the first time I heard it.
It sounded like a lot of the electro-house that had trickled its way down to me over the better course of the decade, or at least since the even then-regrettable electroclash boom fizzled to an end as people realized that even the genre’s leading lights pretty much sucked. Black Strobe, Alter Ego, Rex the Dog, really throbbing, kind of brooding stuff that had tremendous energy and sounded the way a dark, sinister dance club should feel. I loved a lot of it, but with the possible exception of Alter Ego’s “Rocker” (which I’m still most clubbers of the time are sick to death of, but still sounds like a fucking beast to me) most of it fell kind of short in the classic single department–big enough maybe, but not hooky enough and not iconic-sounding enough to match the greats of years past. For primarily internet-based, pop-reared dance listeners like myself, the breaking point was supposed to be Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.,” but that song was always kind of weak and became almost unbearably precious upon countless listens (and frankly, I still think that “Stress” is about a million times cooler).
Nah, the song for me was “I Feel Space.” Not that there’s all that much to it–there’s only one big hook in the song, and the song gives it away half a minute in, basically spending the rest of its seven-minute length coming down from it and building back up to it. But hey, what a hook, right? A warped, echoey keyboard sound that almost sounds cheesy enough to be in an Ian Van Dahl single, but which is nonetheless absolutely stunning upon first listen, and no less compelling whenever it returns. It sounds….like space. Space in terms of outer space, the final frontier, great beyond kind of space, with its amazing wonder and potential implied by the endless, eternal-sounding hook. And more literally, space in terms of physical congestion–it sounds huge, like house music in its truest definition, big enough not just to get played in the club, but to be the club itself. There’s some bells and whistles (some literal, some not) to adorn it, but the hook is the song, and it is vast and contains multitudes.
It kind of feels like the logical pop conclusion to the music that two of the other most acclaimed dance artists of the decade (and two personal preferences as well), Booka Shade had been doing. Their stuff is probably more innovative and enduring, creating languages of dance music that I had never even heard or contemplated before (once again, if you haven’t heard the Villalobos “Cellphone’s Dead“…), but their stuff was largely too minimal, too almost…disciplined for a home-run club single like this. Because “I Feel Space” does border on the cheesy at some points, and is shameless in its stoner-courting, like that old trance song that makes you feel like an idiot with a stupid hat and glow sticks for listening to it (you can even listen to the M.A.N.D.Y. “Space” remix to hear what a cooler, more restrained version of the song sounds like). But one of my problems with underground dance in general this decade was that I never heard enough songs from the best artists that really seemed to go for it, to risk getting remixed by Basshunter or dropped into a Paul Oakenfold set or what have you.
Not that “I Feel Space” will be getting played at Urban Outfitters anytime soon, mind you, but as with “Rocker,” I’m sure this song goes over about as well at decent clubs now as “Fuck the Pain Away” would at a decent New York house party. But that’s cool–big and obvious aren’t anything to be ashamed of, and even if I’m far more likely to go back to Alcachofa or Movements than I would to actually listen to a Lindstrom full-length, I’m glad they made the most of their seven-minute shot at making me really, really feel space. I’m kind of coming around to “Fuck the Pain Away,” even.