Negative Gemini Body Work

[100% Electronica; 2016]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Zara, H&M, Transactive Geopolitics
Others: George Clanton, Jessy Lanza, Fredric Jameson

Working retail sucks. Each morning, stock is sorted and carted, carried and tagged and hung and shelved and stickered, all before opening hours, all before a flood of indignant customers come barging through the glass to the sweet, sweet thump of that infamous four-on-the-floor kick. For years, consumerism has thrived to the rhythm of such a kick, ironing the hourly wage into a flat fabric of the looped rhythm — a perfectly uniform 130 BPM chivvy that keeps employees bouncing from task to task in mindless, flattened repetition.

If, as Fredric Jameson has famously noted, the triumph of the postmodern space is its ability to “[transcend] the capacities of the individual human body to locate itself… to map its position in a mappable external world,” then the four-on-the-floor kick feels like its sonic equivalent: a now-timeless necessity of form, spun and stretched into a mold that prioritizes containment, disorientation, and “schizophrenia,” all in the service of late capitalism. Thumping again against a new generation of the often-feminized industry, the kick and groove of the four-on-the-floor form often feels like it’s hit a final wall, one, much like Jameson’s postmodern hyperspace, where art and aesthetics function largely in the service of transactive geopolitics. But every now and then, something new will come along to change up perceptions, shaking through the mechanized rhythm to offer something strange.

Body Work, the proper full-length follow-up to last year’s Real Virtual Unison, slaps with a swung latch of Detroit bass, a bounce of labored monotony that feels like working for the weekend. The dream-pop-turned-techno project of Lindsey French, Negative Gemini has found footing in the last couple years on George Clanton’s 100% Electronica imprint, and here, French returns with a sound increasingly pivoting from dream-pop to the club. Unlike past efforts, largely carried by French’s breathy vocals, Body Work is structured around bass; with more kick, 303, and even an occasional amen break, the flighty meander of earlier releases now feels grounded in the rhythm of a richer, more refined sound. Singles like “Body Work” and “Nu Hope” cut through the reverb with a heavier, low-end vibe, streamlining dance music’s many histories into a poised cocktail of newfound sounds.

While mining sounds from the past is certainly nothing new or particularly interesting, Body Work peers out with a new delight in manic exploration. “Break” charges forward with quick-tempo’d kick, as a frenzy of sirens, and later a chopped amen, bleed through the mix. “Infinity” teeters on a surprising edge of hardstyle, pulling back only to ease in with lush synths and keyboard glissandos. “Ego Death” offers a scorched, synth-drenched dystopia that’s strangely enough reminiscent of Chino Amobi’s early work as Diamond Black Hearted Boy, while “You Only Hate the Ones You Love” closes with a spectral, spiritual ascent.

Body Work is an oscillation between forms, a wide-eyed exploration that rushes out, then often recedes back to pre-tread terrain. For a project that always seemed so sonically indecisive, the album feels like a leap toward a consciousness of sound, both with an enthusiasm for a new past and a richer understanding of the space in which the act best operates. Like Clanton’s releases as both Mirror Kisses and ESPRIT 空想, Negative Gemini’s collaging of atemporal influences is a tough thing to get right, but when it works, when all the soupy contents surge with the ecstasy of a bridged synapse, then you run with it. Sometimes, even the work week can’t hold you back.

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