The Soft Pink Truth – Was It Ever Real?
As one half of the experimental electronic music duo Matmos, Drew Daniel is accustomed to what the group has referred to as a “democratic approach to music making.” The work he creates with partner M.C Schmidt is best known for their radical ‘found sound’ approach, sampling off-kilter and non-musical elements like collages. It’s an approach that he carries over into his solo work as The Soft Pink Truth, a project that started as a dare. Though by himself, he pastes together motifs and ideas from within and across the musical spectrum to formulate ideations of a place, time, and concept. Usually, these are a commentary on white heterosexual rage. For instance: brilliantly realised house music covers of death metal that both subvert the form and call its motives into question.
On his new mini-album Was It Ever Real? however, the place and time is the hedonistic, libidinally charged dancefloor of the gay discotheque. It’s an all too familiar misc-en-scene for dance music, and one that can easily lapse into much of the sameness. But Daniel’s perspective isn’t quite like everyone else’s. To extract the slinky, scuzzy lethargy of the queer dancefloor, he fuses together elements from jazz, disco, and funk with acidic ambience and looping wonkiness, making the familiar a touch uncanny. It’s at once recognisable but fresh, hazy like deja vu. He’s embracing the tropes of his subject matter and playing with them accordingly, which opens Daniel up to some cheekily creative thinking. A cover of Coil’s gay sex horror The Anal Staircase is one case in point, here transformed from its carnivorously decadent darkwave into a slick and stylish deep house cut. Elements from the original’s macabre collage of sounds are cut and pasted into Daniel’s mix as accents, less monstrous and perfume to shroud his darkroom with a chic sensibility.
It’s in exercising a sense of restraint that Daniel makes his exploration into queer pleasure and hedonism distinct. While most of these explorations veer toward maximalism, Daniel instead chooses a minimalist lens that drapes Was It Ever Real? in a louche, dreamlike (albeit worrying) sexiness. Is it Gonna Get Any Deeper Than This? (wink, wink) uses its elements sparingly, but still manages to elicit visions of disco balls, crushed velvet, and white lines. Similarly, You Don’t Know (The Full Rose Of Dawn) is disco on phentermine; reduced to its most essential elements. It’s stretched as thin as a Vogue cigarette, so that it wafts into ethereal ambience at the edges. For a project that’s ultimately an exercise in pleasure, choosing the wispy over the indulgent is a bold choice, but it’s the right one.
Listen to The Anal Staircase from Was It Ever Real? below.
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