Sightings: Blondes, “Spanish Fly”

l_20e944a4836c4081afc0f41d716fee41The first time I caught a live set by the Brooklyn electronic duo Blondes, my mind started flashing with memories of Manuel Göttsching’s disembodied head floating aimlessly atop a vortex of neon pink and purple mist during last summer’s performance of “E2-E4” at Lincoln Center. This projection–courtesy the Joshua Light Show–formed the perfect accompaniment to the pleasant, glassy-eyed monotony of a simple programmed pattern sounding a million times over–here the famous “E2-E4” riff–and Blondes’ music leans on a similar logic.

Maybe it was the excruciating tedium of Göttsching’s 40-minute pentatonic guitar solo, but “E2-E4” ended up leaving me kind of deflated in the end. I’m not really sure why, but Zach Steinman and Sam Haar’s return to this inaugural moment in ’80s house music had the reverse effect on me, flipping off the “dance switch” in my brain the moment they leaned over their Rolands and started bobbing their heads. “Spanish Fly” kicks in with a diaphanous female vocal sample–Blondes’ version of the basic “E2-E4” unit –and pulls us in deeper and deeper with the introduction of new elements, each exquisitely timed: a thick and juicy baseline, some flickering drum-machine counterpoint, tacky electronic flourishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a strut down Fashion Runway. For the kind of music that is often mind-numbingly horizontal, Blondes arrive at a surprising sensation of depth: kind of like diving into the neon vortex, instead of hovering around it?

Blondes, “Spanish Fly”

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Words: Emilie Friedlander
Photo: Camilla Padget-Coles

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