Release Date: Sep 26, 2011
Record label: Portobello Records
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Electronica, Club/Dance, Experimental Techno
As the proverbial adage says, those who can't play music write about it instead. But if I had the talent (and the will), a large swathe of Death in Vegas' work is what I'd want my own stuff to sound like. Needless to say, then, the release of Trans-Love Energies, Richard Fearless' first album in seven years had me waiting with trepidation.
Extended lengths of time between creative periods tend to go one of two ways. Sometimes they allow the artist time to breathe, to take on new perspectives and gain new experiences: and fans of Kate Bush and Gil Scott Heron will rightly tell you that this allow the artist to return stronger than ever; that the artist has never sounded so inspired, so fresh and so creative. On the other hand there are the likes of Guns‘N Roses or author George R.R.
A DJ duo with the soul of a rock band, Death in Vegas is an act that notoriously recycles, creating electronic-influenced patchworks—built from a mix of sampled sounds and original material—that fall safely within the tenets of existing subgenres. Their style has progressively evolved away from the baggy electronic of 1997’s Dead Elvis, but the persistently borrowed quality of their music has remained, something that continues, for better and worse, on Trans-Love Energies. Despite their genre-hopping proclivities, Death in Vegas has proven much more adept at foraging and assembly than creating something truly innovative or original, which means their average album is an exercise in appropriation.
It might be pushing it to call [a]Death In Vegas[/a]’ Richard Fearless the British James Murphy, but Fearless might well have recognised himself in the self-lacerating lines of [a]LCD Soundsystem[/a]’s ‘[b]Losing My Edge[/b]’, not least because its list of hipster touchstones – Can, Suicide, The Sonics, “[i]every seminal Detroit techno hit[/i]” – sounds exactly like the ingredients for this record. Fearless himself assumes vocal duties, although [a]Austra[/a]’s Katie Stelmanis is also occasionally employed to help the music transcend the dank analogue dungeon of its creation. Yes, this is record collection rock – but Fearless has a particularly good record collection.Sam Richards .
Tough, transcendent and sexy in a rather odd fashion. Ian Wade 2011 Death in Vegas. Ring any bells? Made a couple of splendidly dark and menacing albums in the 1990s, Dead Elvis and the superb Contino Sessions; they then collaborated with Paul Weller, Liam Gallagher and Adult on the far-out Scorpio Rising LP of 2002, and then… Well, they seemed to vanish.
Death in Vegas are a complex proposition. Richard Fearless often seems to want to make records for nightclubs attended solely by elegantly wrecked devotees of an eclectic range of critically-approved music: deaths-head garage and drone, post-punk, Detroit techno, psychedelia, and the affectless modernism of 70s Dusseldorf and Berlin. However, his work has arguably found its widest audience by supplying the token-electronic filler for beery indie discos and car compilations with titles like One For The Lads and Cigarettes and Alcohol Classics.