5 Years of Get Physical
Five years is an awful long time in dance music culture. Trends come and go within a few months; labels and artists do, too. But thanks to Booka Shade’s generous work ethic (i.e. writing songs for the labels’ figureheads) and pop tech-house aesthetic, as well as M.A.N.D.Y.’s relentless A&R scouting (the artists played a role, too, but let’s be honest here), Get Physical Music has reached near major status in the electronic scene and shows no signs of closing shop anytime soon. 5 Years Get Physical is a forward-looking compilation which offers new takes on old favorites and previews the label’s forthcoming direction. But the results are not quite as inspiring as the journey to get to this point.
Because Get Physical has a knack for constantly anthologizing itself, the first disc recruits producers both big (Herbert, Henrik Schwarz, Moby[!]) and relatively obscure (Earl Zinger, Dexter) for remixes rather than simply recycling hits. Schwarz delivers the best of the bunch, attacking Booka Shade’s “Vertigo” with deep, growling dub stabs and a limber bassline without piercing the track’s mysteriously swirling synths. Herbert imbues subtle pop bubbles into his stuttering edit of Chelonis R. Jones’ “I Don’t Know,” while Lopazz takes the same tune in a somber and organic direction, replete with acoustic guitar leads and strums and hand percussion. Hot Chip and Fujiya & Miyagi don’t remix so much as cover M.A.N.D.Y.’s “No Stoppin’” and Lopazz’s “Migracion” (respectively) as by-the-book rock tunes – not exactly stirring. Legendary string arranger Larry Gold of The Salsoul Orchestra recasts Booka Shade’s “Nightfall” as the opening sequence of a drama flick. Along with Senor Coconut’s cheeseball cover of “Body Language,” these are so out of context they appear as mere novelties. Sideshow, Dexter and Fakesch all do regrettable things to their tracks; but Moby’s remix of “Les Djinns” is sure to draw the most ire simply for a) being Moby and b) messing with the overrated tune. (To be honest, it sounds OK if hugely histrionic.) But by the end I was asking myself, “Why take this lot instead of more producers?”
If disc one was to reinterpret the past, disc two shines a light on Get Physical’s future. The forecast isn’t as promising as one might hope. Certifiably the most hyped tune on the compilation is M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade’s cover of Laurie Anderson’s “Oh Superman” – a simple romp that’s heavy on her vocals and catchy as all get-out. BS’s new track, “Unhealthy Pleasures,” focuses the duo’s pop chops on a jagged melody slicing through dark atmospherics. DJ T. (Prosumer, actually) also delivers a standout, “Once In a Life,” a boiled down tech-house track which gets a lot of mileage from a bopping motif. Lopazz and Chelonis both go the narrative route with their tracks, the former of which is a snappy Prince-ian tune. Jona, Audiofly X and Williams all fall victim to the minimal bug to uneventful ends while Riton & Heidi’s ghetto-house “To the Gum” is simply insulting to the senses. As with its choice of remixers, Get Physical is continuing to branch out from its popular strain of tech-house, and these uncharted waters haven’t made for the smoothest of sailing. 5 Years of Get Physical isn’t as bad as some critics will have you believe, but it does publicly exhibit the growing pains this established label is growing through. Here’s hoping they have the longevity in them to power through this somewhat awkward period toward 10 Years.