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Prinzhorn Dance School : Clay Class

There is no other contemporary artist whose musical tastes and opinions I trust more than James Murphy: I once spent an afternoon listing every band name-checked on LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” in case there was some obscurity I hadn’t heard of that I needed to track down. But I could never fully get behind his decision to sign the duo of Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn AKA Prinzhorn Dance School to his DFA label. Their self-titled 2007 album appeared to be the work of a couple of pranksters intent on ruining a semi-decent Gang Of Four impression with half-spoken beat poetry and some seriously annoying yelping, and seeing them in a live setting – supporting LCD on the UK leg of the Sound Of Silver tour, backed by a live drummer – only served to baffle further. Truth be told, I had them pegged as an anomaly, a name that would be swept under the carpet when the time came to write the DFA story, but here they are again, back with a second LP recorded in their own Red Shed studio in Oxfordshire, and guess what? It’s good. In fact, it’s very good, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that they’re doing differently; their sound is still angular and ultra-minimal, close-mic’d and dry as a bone with sinister, wiry guitar motifs struggling to fill the space in between thick bass grooves and propulsive drum tracks that sound like they are being played on a kit with several pieces missing. The fact that Horn yelps less this time around certainly helps, as do Prinz’s more coherent (and, as such, more palatable) lyrics, and whilst they haven’t lost their sense of mischief – as proven by the intentionally disjointed and endlessly fascinating percussion – one can’t help but feel the pair have suddenly decided to take themselves seriously. Though still a defiantly “love it or hate it” prospect, Clay Class could convert a few non-believers, and whilst it’s a long way from the hip disco many still think of as their label’s trademark sound it isn’t hard to trace a line from the group’s oddball art-punk back to the likes of the Fall, Devo and Talking Heads. In that context PDS and DFA seem like obvious, perfect bedfellows; Mr. Murphy, I apologise for ever questioning your judgement.  Listen: “Happy In Bits”

Clay Class is out January 31 on DFA Records

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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