Fan Death Fan DeathWomb Of Dreams
In the 70’s there were some night birds who could feel disgusted: it was as simple as not sympathising with the rock canons of the day or the remains of the last hippy-infested communes. For this public, happiness was hard to come by, so disco music was the answer to the prayers of those who are today considered the forerunners of the clubbing scene as we know it nowadays. We can pull on the thread, looking far back, recalling historical-cultural points of reference like the oil crisis of 1973, and put it parallel to the current economic recession, and try to understand why there is a return to a carefree, hedonistic state of mind: dance as an exercise in survival and a negation of generalised weariness. Whether it is reaffirming the aesthetic constants of disco music–we could find an example in Hercules & Love Affair and the style blender of DFA– or the Italian side –bands like Glass Candy, Chromatics or Farah (on the label Italians Do It Better)– a lot of current dance music with a catchy melody has helped to rejuvenate a genre that is weighed down by clichés and opinions overloaded with prejudices, but which has reformulated its repertoire for the current times with melancholy, an unhealthy sadness that distances itself from the combination of dance and stimulants that took place in temples of pleasure like The Loft or that theme park called Studio 54. Nothing is left of the days of Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”. Sad disco, as some have wanted to label it, lives in a hostile, practically underground world, without divas with powerful vocal chords to hold onto, and it is only appreciated by people who admire and are nostalgic for the golden age of dance music.
Fan Death has emerged as the odd band of the revivalist pack to give their opinion of this. Starting with their name, which is taken from a South Korean urban legend that affirms that if you sleep in a closed room with a fan you’ll wake up dead, you can tell that they can’t be very normal. Dandilion Wind Opaine and Marta Jaciube-McKeaver, are from Vancouver and are obsessed with the excuse of being arty (just look at some of their videos); they introduced themselves two years ago with “Veronica’s Veil”, a hit that Erol Alkan couldn’t resist and ended up putting out as a maxi for his label Phantasy. Since then, they have accompanied Vampire Weekend around Europe, they have remixed Ladyhawke, Frankmusik or Lost Valentinos, laying the groundwork for this debut LP “Womb of Dreams”, on which they are placing their bets.
First of all, they surprise with a beginning like “Constellations”: if they told us that it’s a B-side of Cocorosie, we would believe it without objections. This song, along with the closing one, “Almost There”, where you can see the influence of the frozen basses of The Knife, are far removed from what we find in the rest of the work, in any case, since the core of the album is what we expected: Chic-style disco music influenced by synth-pop, like the excellent and infectious (how low!) “Reunited” . Following the example of Cerrone or Boney M, here well into the 21st century, Fan Death claims something as totally kitsch as synthetic chords: “When the Money’s Right” or “Crowd Controll” show this—they sound like Chicks On Speed rendering homage to Tony Manero.
Fan Death even let themselves get carried away into Hi-Nrg territory – “Son Will Rise” is one of the album’s undeniable jewels, not to mention the glam disco of the lovable Baccara – “The Best Night Of My Life”– and they slide over into italo-disco with tropical garnishes in “Phantom Sensation”, although the result in this specific case didn’t turn out to be as inspired. Even though they are relatively faithful to the spirit of Dan Hartman and Sylvester, if you allow me to take that licence, the only problem visible in the bulk of “Womb of Dreams” is the linear quality of the majority of the songs. They have something to say for themselves the first time that you listen to them, it can’t be denied, but there comes a time when it is almost impossible to differentiate one song from another. Dandilion’s voice doesn’t help much in this sense, but we can at least appreciate that a couple of young women once again place their bets on the lighter sound of disco music, a scene that has been unfairly looked down on in recent decades and which at least deserves a little respect.
Sergio del Amo
Fan Death - The Constellations Fan Death - Choose Tonight