A socially situated erotic

Enigmatically named band releases enigmatically titled record featuring enigmatically titled songs (other than ‘Full Trance Effect’). I like some enigma in my groove, it makes me pay attention. Urban Homes emerged from a largely punk background (so their potted biog on the Altin Village & Mine Records website has it), and owing to drummer difficulties enlisted a TR707 drum machine, which led them in an altogether more danceable direction. Centres is an album that is distinctly redolent of earlier generations of musician to undergo precisely that transition, from punk to electronic dance music, from the late seventies into the eighties. It’s all about the joy of the dancefloor, the movement of bodies, the coming together of hearts in a union of sound, but this is not the out-of-focus, critically agnostic euphoria of trance or techno – Urban Homes construct an ecstasy that is rich with melancholy, a homesick celebration of the ephemeral places and moments in which stylistic and cultural boundaries are truly fluid. House, krautrock and disco jostle against the hollow-voiced, dark-eyed intensity of post-punk, in a self-forged style whose communitarian, guitar-band roots emerge clearly somewhere in the cohesion of its disparate ingredients. Sometimes propelled by chiming, melodic guitar hooks, at other times by a gritty, picked bass that manages to distill floor-filling syncopations without plundering the vocabulary of funk, this is very clearly a hand-made music, its organic components, its performing bodies, in perfect lock-step with a drum machine that seems to acquire human characteristics by virtue of the company it keeps. Contrast this to the machine-world of much EDM, from which human agency is exiled in the futile pursuit of a kind of transcendent, disembodied carnality: Urban Homes perform a socially situated erotic, a music for real bodies in real time. More than six years after its release, six years after I first wrote about it, and first noted the intellectual sophistication with which it deploys party music to explore the permeable boundary between the mechanistic and the organic, it still gives me chills and makes me want to dance. As I said back then, this record offers the listener about as much fun as you can have with your brain switched on.

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