Your Drums, Your Love
(Sung in sweet, dark soul voice) There comes a ti-ime, in every compilation, to take it down, take it deep down… (end of soul voice) to use an easy trick, really, of following a banger with a quiet one. Using that blank three seconds to switch frame, to radically challenge what the ears are expecting, to reverse the flow, to change genres. And though I call it an easy trick and think of it as a crutch I lean on too often, actually it’s more central than that.
AlunaGeorge, following the straight-up banger of Torqux, catches you gently after you’ve gone flying off a cliff, a metaphor this compilation is named after. A pulse of warm sound, isolated and lovely, becomes a skittering but somehow soft drum pattern, then the distorted, yawning sample of the title. It’s a song of gaps, of spaces where you’d expect to be an instrument, a melody line, but there’s nothing but void. Where there are sounds, where there are pieces of tune supporting the vocals, they feel like off-cuts, like the song’s been assembled from the leftover scraps of a more lavish and conventional previous production. Mainly it’s percussion, the thump of the bass drop and all the other little patterns coming in and out. And on top of it all is Aluna’s song, unifying it and bringing an understanding of what pop always has to be, that verse chorus verse. Her voice isn’t the strongest but it’s individual, pretty, cool, the lyrics just distinctive enough to be memorable.
It isn’t the absolute change of pace, genre, form that you can get away with on a compilation. Both it and the preceding song are modern computer-made pop by people who like everything across every genre while blithely creating their own. And though it starts quietly and keeps a measured catwalk-slow pace, it does build to something of a crescendo. It’s not a total drop into acoustic or anything. The whole feel of this compilation is fairly homogenous, not mixing wildly different genres but demonstrating how mixed the mainstream has become, how many different facets there are to the crystal of pop.
The loud-quiet thing, though, the crutch I feel sneakingly ashamed of always returning to – and it’ll be back again later in this tracklist – is key to a compilation. It might even be why I make them. Where else can you get that contrast, an Elvis song followed by some unknown rapper you found on a blog? Albums don’t throw a trance song immediately after an acoustic cover of a pop track. They can’t, by definition, stutter back and forward in time. In the majority of cases the singer remains the same track after track, the guitarist stays the same or the creation of music without a guitar remains the same. What has been, unexamined, in my head as a crutch isn’t. It’s kind of the whole point.
Title: Your Drums, Your Love
Compilation: Coyote Summer