The Luxury Tax :: Live at 222 Club (Budget Cuts Music, CD)

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(01.12.07) Before The Luxury Tax, Autobono had a project called Insomnian and a song called “Candy machine, Humming to itself.” That title sums up an interesting idea in electronic music: dirty gross industrial machine, given a mic; you can hear its unloved little heartbeat and beautiful little voice.

The Luxury Tax is the very definition of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music): whimsical, loud, tasteful, tasteless, affronting, funny, weird, yet incredibly groovy, with oddly chirping and barking synth and bass lines which eagerly defy tonal and rhythmic conventions. It makes you want to giggle; but unlike a lot of IDM, it makes you want to dance. Their third and latest release, Live at 222 Club –preceded by Eat Garbage and Rave Toilet –includes tracks featured on two Fateless Flows Collective compilations. I frequent the 222 Club (222 Hyde, SF). The Luxury Tax shows at 222 feel friendly like a family event. People go to genuinely have a good time. When The Luxury Tax plays, we huddle almost piously into the smoky basement to listen quietly at first and then the feeling inflates and the audience starts coming alive with little bursts, gasps, yells, chants, which turn into jumping, laughing, feeding on each other until an invisible, alchemic magic rises up over our heads.

Live at 222 Club is a mixture of booming hip hop, hardcore, and disco-pop drum loops often mixed with arrhythmic yet sensible counterbalancing patterns. These beats contrast powerfully emotive chord progressions and gently rising and falling arias generated by strange, poetic scratching and sampling. It’s like listening to a puzzle, slowly coming together. Less of a dance album than the previous louder and more hostile recordings, Live at 222 Club constitutes the down-tempo portion of The Luxury Tax’s repertoire. “Nosebleed” is a rich cacophony of dance-pop sensibilities, unexpectedly melodic sampling and scratching, and smoothly layered classic bass and keyboard sounds. It encourages the listener to consider classic soul and funk, and then become destabilized by the gently harmonizing stream of bleeps, chirps, and samples which create a playful contrast to that classic soul and funk. “Shelf Life” makes me feel at the same time despair and exaltation. It begins with an investigation into the nature of epilepsy under an unusual arpeggio that slowly builds with beautiful counter-rhythms and counter-melodies to climax in a mesmerizing sound collage.

Live at 222 Club consistently entreats the listener with an elegance not usually associated with dance music. Each song is a wall of melody, harmony, irony, remarkably dance-able beats, and brilliant humanity resonating out of the little lights and boxes.

Live at 222 Club is available for purchase at myspace.com/theluxurytax and at budgetcutsmusic.com. Contact info@budgetcutsmusic.com for more info.

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