Various Artists

DFA Compilation #2 Comp

(DFA; 2004)

By David M. Goldstein | 10 November 2004

Firstly, a little background for the uninitiated. The DFA consist of Tim Goldsworthy (British, overly tidy) and James Murphy (American, pudgy, sort of unkempt)—two Manhattan (not Williamsburg, as is a common misperception) based producers who’ve slowly become indie’s answer to The Neptunes. While their track record isn’t entirely spotless, the DFA have achieved a degree of recent success in the indie world by releasing a steady, if not overwhelming, stream of mid-fi singles readily adaptable to a rock show or dance floor. Never at a loss for props, a DFA remix is currently one of the ultimate credibility boosts to be bestowed upon a band; a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for the Magnet set.

I’ll just take it on faith that the average CMG reader knows that the Rapture would probably still be living out of their van had the DFA not taken them under their wing. They only release their singles on vinyl, knowing full well that unfortunates without turntables can find them online anyway. The roster of artists they produce is purposely small, their website woefully sparse, and their legend has been growing at a steady clip for the past three years—-as much for their music as their widely publicized failure to return Janet Jackson’s phone calls.

DFA Compilation #2 compiles roughly two hours worth of DFA singles previously only available on vinyl, with a third CD devoted to an hour long mix compiled by Goldsworthy. It serves as a generous sequel to 2003’s DFA Compilation #1, a one-disc collection of early singles which only suffered from being a bit short. That disc typified the DFA’s initial M.O. of producing rock tracks that house DJs would play—something best illustrated by the inclusion of The Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers,” the track which, arguably, put the DFA on the map. While that song does feature plenty of the cowbells, heavily filtered disco bass, and heroin handclaps that the DFA became instantly associated with, they wisely avoided pigeonholing on Compilation #1 by also undertaking production jobs for decidedly non dance-oriented acts such as white noise makers Black Dice.

Compilation #2 will immediately quiet detractors who initially pegged the DFA as having but one trick. This is a compilation which begins with 15 minutes of aural pornography (Black Leotard Front’s “Casual Friday”), finds spastic Boredoms vocalist and drummer Yoshimi-P-We deftly hollering in between what sounds like the clatter of household pots and pans (J.O.Y.’s “Sunplus”), and even offers up snarky scenester commentary from James Murphy on the tracks that feature his own band, LCD Soundsystem. The latter is Murphy’s answer to N.E.R.D. or perhaps even The Wesley Willis Fiasco (albeit far more successful than either); a collective in which he surfaces from behind the boards to engage in a Fall-style sing-speak backed by a live band. The two mixes of LCD Soundsytem’s “Yeah” were released on 12-inch vinyl nearly a year ago, but they’re still one of the major draws to this collection; a pair of clavinet driven club tracks culminating in a fury of electro air-raid sirens. Expectations for the January release of LCD’s long awaited full length album are extremely high.

At eighteen tracks (not including the mix CD), nine artists and nearly two hours, Compilation #2 isn’t designed to be digested in an afternoon, and features enough depth within its individual tracks to keep you satiated until New Year’s. Variety is the order of the day, and I’ve failed to mention The Juan MacLean’s dub electro tracks, a pair of token DFA club-bangers from label newcomers Pixeltan, and the “DFA dub” remix of The Rapture’s “Sister Saviour,” which nixes Matt Safer’s clipped vocal lines in favor of a far smoother ride.

I can’t help but feel a little useless in trying to describe the majority of these singles via the written word; there’s no filler whatsoever, and the number of styles within attests to the DFA’s ability to pack the dance floor in a variety of ways. Take their cue. Buy this compilation, and spice up your next iPod driven sock-hop by tossing in Pixeltan’s “Get Up/Say What” in between “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Blue Monday.” If there’s any justice, you will get laid.