Liquid Liquid

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

The output of Liquid Liquid, the groove-and-dub-obsessed quartet active in the downtown art and music world of the early ’80s, mirrored both the dystopian decay of No Wave–era NYC and the endless possibilities that can result from that kind of collapse. There was essentially no template to follow anymore, and like contemporaries such as jagged-edge noiseniks DNA and the sensuously scraping Ut, Liquid Liquid was free create its own dogma. (Comparatively, much of today’s scene consists of bourgeois biters.) The band was perfectly in tune with the zeitgeist, finding new ways to work with the interplay of rhythm, sound and empty space—but unlike a lot of the music coming from the decrepit lofts and dark basements, you could actually dance to it.

Slip In and Out of the Phenomenon, consisting of remastered cuts, unreleased material and some stunning live tracks, takes its name from Liquid Liquid’s best-known track, “Cavern.” It’s probably the band’s poppiest song, relatively speaking; both its bassline and vocal hook were “borrowed” by Melle Mel for “White Lines,” resulting in a monumental lawsuit. But it illustrates the band’s standard operating procedure: Start with Richard McGuire’s slinky bass, place that over Scott Hartley’s protodisco drums and add Salvatore Principato’s wailing delivery of indecipherable lyrics. Some tracks make use of Dennis Young’s marimba (!), others add a chasm full of echoed percussion, but the result is always the same—a powerful and primal, almost frightening funk, sounding as if it were made by neodruids in a postapocalyptic world.

Slip In and Out of the Phenomenon (Domino)