MSTRKRFT Operator Last Gang
There’s recently been a positive reappraisal of ‘bloghouse’: a genre of visceral, garish dance music which blew up during the mid-late 00s. It was fun at the time, and it was admittedly the movement which first drew many 20-somethings to club music, but it’s since been trashed as an embarrassingly adolescent interlude, a dweeby past many of us would rather bury under the more “credible” tastes we’ve all developed in more recent years.
One of the biggest names from that era was MSTRKRFT. Formed of Death From Above 1979’s Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P, the duo collided nu-rave and punk in occasionally productive ways, scoring hits like 2007‘s Street Justice and 2008‘s Bounce.
Now, six years since their last studio album, they’ve returned with Operator, a work of mostly unlistenable tracks that ditch the smart melodies for screamo noise. The artwork is a bad start – a cheap-looking monochrome image of the pair in army-style helmets and jackets, wearing tough faces that say, ‘Be scared, please’.
The tracks range from confected adolescent rage-core to sleazy macho electro. Runaway is about the best song on here, but its Vitalic synth lines and catchy melodies are swamped in a tinny, over-compressed production that tries to put too much stuff into too small a musical space”. Morning of the Hunt sounds like a tribute to Justice’s Genesis, but there’s no pay-off and swagger like there is in the French pair’s bloghouse banger. It’s more like a bad-spirited parody.
MSTRKRFT have claimed they had hundreds of hours of recorded music to make this album with, and yet they somehow found space for Playing With Itself, which might be the most annoying song I’ve ever heard: atonal, siren-like patterns loop slowly around muddled percussion and gospel choir ‘Oh’s.
It’s nice to get nostalgic about bloghouse, and to redeem the reputation of the electro-house and fidget house that many of us might covertly still harbour a soft spot for. But Operator is solid evidence that attempts at an actual comeback could be a terrible idea. There’s nothing here you’d miss if you never heard it again.