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Escape Velocity

Tanlines: Ex Don Caballero And Professor Murder Boys Make Music For Web 3.0
Alex Denney , January 2nd, 2009 07:44

Global mutant pop versus postmodern culture and its attendant dogs of unreality. Ruff!

tanlines

“I really want to try and make music the way I consume it.”

Tanlines belong to that happy breed of musicians that revels in the rank absurdities thrown up by postmodern culture and its attendant dogs of unreality. Neither the mournful ushers of a world without meaning nor its ironic celebrants, the Brooklyn duo instead look to embody the spirit of their musical age via their questing, upbeat pop which sounds a bit like a wet-behind-the ears DFA on a globe-trotting youth hostel jaunt.

A production outfit comprising ex-Don Caballero member Eric Simms and Professor Murder keyboardist Jessie Cohen, Tanlines' music first garnered attention on the back of an acclaimed remix of Telepathe's juddering avant-pop barnstormer 'Chrome's On It' (which Emm actually helped to record), but it's recent single 'New Flowers' whose infectious toms and ghostly sighing make the biggest impact and marks them out as force to be reckoned with on their own terms.

Says Emm: “When we started Tanlines we made our first song and it didn’t feel quite complete. So then I thought about the Telepathe song with those cool vocals and they seemed to work well together. But musically that was the first Tanlines song. It’s a cool and modern event when you’re able to write your first song in a basement and have it up online for people to listen to immediately. That’s the digital era, and a huge part of what makes this project.”

In an industry whose failure to adapt convincingly to the fickle mores of the ‘net continues to be an embarrassment it’s refreshing to see such a healthy interest being taken in all things web-related – for instance, the group puts together its videos via edited ‘lifts’ from the Youtube website, which also doubles up as their homepage.

“There’s something cool about not having a proper Tanlines website,” says Emm. “We wanted Youtube to be our internet ‘presence’ - proper band sites are so web 2.0 (laughs).”

Video: Tanlines, 'New Flowers'

Speaking of his admiration for the cultural cross-pollenation engendered by the internet, Cohen says:

“It’s the same thing that happened when radio became widely available in the twenties; now you’ve got all these different music cultures around the world infiltrating different people’s sounds. And I wouldn’t have had exposure to that if I’d been at high school buying CDs.”

“I feel we’ve more of a kinship with someone like El Guincho than with ‘dance rock’,” adds Emm, partly in allusion to the erroneous epithets hung on the duo as residents of mutant disco's birthplace. “It’s gonna take a long time to realise there’s music from other parts of the world than the US or the UK… or even Germany.”

In the post-Myspace historical moment everyone within clicking distance of a PC has their own take on other people’s music no matter how far-flung, and all of them are equally valid. To project is human, to embrace it is divine... or something.

Obscurely, thoughts turn to Barack Obama, whose recent embroilment in the iPodgate scandal was until now unbeknownst to the touring outfit.

Eric (Emms): “Oh really? He was being touted as the first Mac president.”

Jessie (Cohen): “…and he had like a Zune or something instead? But that’s the thing with Obama, everyone gets to write whatever they want onto him. Like I thought it was cool he was the first skinny president (laughs).”

Collaborations with Caroline Polachek of Chairlift and Luke Jenner from The Rapture are currently in the offing for the duo, plus remixes of Architecture in Helsinki and LA 's Glasser – read what you will into Tanlines' zesty dance-pop goodness, but you'll write them off at your own peril.

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