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Arts and Culture

The Dance of the Epileptic Robots

Skrillex remixes a club smash into dimensions unknown.

By Thom Wong 4 Nov 2010 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong writes regularly about music for The Tyee. He can also be found ruminating about the state of menswear at The Sunday Best.

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Skrillex in a rare moment of sucking.

"I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles is the greatest dance song ever. I don't offer this as a point of conversation; I offer it as fact. Cold, hard fact. I used this exclusive knowledge when planning the dance portion of my recent wedding, an event which asked one simple question -- do you want to move? If you can somehow manage to resist the song's boogie-inducing truth, you are a powerful being and I have no quarrel with you. The rest of us mortals will simply hand jive.

I have still not heard the iSquare original of "Hey Sexy Lady," on which Skrillex based this remix. It might be a perfectly good song in its own right. It might be a dance club classic. But I know it's not as good as the remix, not nearly as good, for the remix does something few songs ever do. It makes me wish I was cooler.

On the rare occasion I find myself in a club I tend to focus entirely on the people directly in front of me. I dance directly to that space, not wanting to look around too much lest I see how much impossibly younger everyone else is. Chris Rock has a devastating bit in one of his stand-ups about a guy who's too old. "Not that old, but just a little too old for the club." I don't know if I've reached that point yet -- my discomfort makes me think so -- but I must be close. That said, if clubs played more songs like this I'd fight through discomfort, hernias and late night sleepiness to get there.

It starts with a friendly, videogame beat, setting the melody down in wet, sloppy notes. Then the beat drops out, a few distorted lyrics worm their way in, the beat comes back, gathers speed, and it's all so much Daft Punk. But then it sounds like the singer's dying, someone tells you to "now get the f#%$ up," and everything gets wildly grimy. A sound like a Transformer having a seizure takes over, the thickest sound you've ever heard in a dance song, and for about 20 seconds you don't know where you are. It's a testament to Skrillex's beatmaking that when the interlude is over, and the original melody takes over, you want it to end and the epileptic robots to come back.

Of course, in the words of the immortal Butthead, maybe the sucky parts have to suck so the rocking parts can rock. The rest of the song plays out this wisdom as Skrillex intersperses equal amounts of vocals with technology flying apart, at one point punctuating everything with the sound of someone choking (or possibly reaching climax).

Awesome.  [Tyee]

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