DFA Compilation #1

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The rumble-slash-squall-careen-yelp (plus cowbell) of the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" along with the puttering, Mark E. Smith-like hectoring of LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" (aka "You might be a hopeless music geek if...") helped put DFA over the top as an underground phenomenon in 2002. James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy's small label released three other vinyl singles that year that, for all their references to scenes past, also found ways to look outside of the normal indie parameters for their sounds. It's not that the label's "revolutionary blurred line between rock and dance" -- a journalist party-line that was almost as overused as "Radiohead are saving rock" -- has been its true drawing point. The fusion isn't all that revolutionary; obviously these tipsters never saw Molly Hatchet in their prime, and perhaps they forgot more fitting and unobscure precedents like Gang of Four and New Order. While DFA has often traded on mixing and matching different strands of dance and rock, the label's early success has had more to do with a dynamic, bottom-heavy production sense, informed by that well-studied diet of post-punk, no wave, disco, house, and techno. Murphy and Goldsworthy, the in-house production team that also operates as the DFA outside of the label, is either directly or indirectly responsible for this sound in every case. DFA Compilation #1 culls highlights from the label's first five singles, all the while throwing in the two best moments from their affiliation with the unpredictable Black Dice. The two Black Dice inclusions are just as crucial to the disc's brilliance as "House of Jealous Lovers" and "Losing My Edge"; the 2003 A-side "Cone Toaster" is particularly jarring, a thumping Big Black update filled with an assortment of panned scrapes and electronic mites. The other major moments are the Juan Maclean's first two A-sides, both of which function as sleazoid electro-disco at its most addictive. The only gripe with the selection is that LCD Soundsystem's relatively tame garage rock A-side "Give It Up" is included in favor of the far superior post-punk B-side "Beat Connection"; the label brass either wanted to showcase as much range as possible here, or they willfully left out one of their best moments in true collector-scum fashion.

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