Release Date: Nov 25, 2008
Record label: K7
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Post-punk revivalists the Rapture throw their hat in the celebrity DJ ring with this compilation of dance-floor thumpers. Starting off at a relaxed tempo, they move through hip-hop classics and funk into a bunch of obscure disco oddities, paying homage to the NYC underground tradition. Toward the second half, they move into house sounds but keep the vibe in Big Apple territory for the most part, with a few detours into Europe.
No mention of Tapes from !K7 before. Maybe the Rapture, New York’s best dance-punk pioneers, are the first in an intended series of artists to release influence-baring compilation albums. Perhaps it’s just a one-off project. In either case, this is the first mix to be released by the band. But ….
The latest group to compile a mix for the !K7 label is New York electro-scuzz combo, The Rapture; and an unusual compilation it is too. Initially thrilled to see The Undisputed Truth kick proceedings off, I was sorely disappointed that ‘Earthquake’ lasted a mere 32 seconds before being poorly cut into Ghostface Killa’s ‘Daytona 500’. Thankfully, the quality of mixing improves with (mostly) seamless beat matching and some deft cutting between the classic and contemporary.
Enjoyment of the Rapture's Tapes necessitates unfamiliarity with the majority of its contents, indifference to acute sequencing and, naturally, deep interest in what the band views as classic and fresh. The set, containing 22 tracks in 74 minutes, flits across several forms of dance music -- funk, disco, go-go, house, techno, hip-hop, disco revivalism -- often to a jarring extent, indeed sounding like it was selected by committee. The tougher transitions between ill-fitting tracks are masked with fade-outs and drastic bottom elimination through EQ'ing, and some tracks that do match up rhythmically -- Richie Havens' coarse cover of Lamont Dozier's "Going Back to My Roots" and Galaxy 2 Galaxy's gleaming "Afros, ARPs, and Minimoogs" being the prime pair -- sometimes present clashing moods and tones.
As their uneven sophomore record, Pieces of the People We Love, proved, after defining dance music circa 2003 (via Echoes), the Rapture are more concerned with creating a hazy atmosphere that evokes the club than with making music you can dance to. But at the same time, the band have also become obsessed with less-involved forms of moving bodies: They spent a block of time this summer touring on DJ dates, and compiled a !K7 mixtape titled Tapes. Like Pieces, Tapes goes through the motions of dance music without ever delivering anything remotely danceable.
I guess the wheels fell of the Rapture bandwagon around the time of Pieces Of People We Love, which I actually felt deserved more than the dismissive attention paid to it by a lot of old Rapture fans I’ve met. That’s the problem with making your definitive statements so early on, though – the Rapture are in the unenviable position of having defined the early noughties zeitgeist with “House Of Jealous Lovers” and “Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks,” which means everything’s in deference to those prioritized moments, even if (secretly) a lot of people loved Morgan Geist’s “Jealous Lovers” mix more, or exorcised their Cure jones with “Olio” instead. The Rapture made those deft moves (post-punk to agit-funk to undie-disco to electro-pop to etc.