Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Chicane Poppiholla Reviewed on BBC Chart Blog

"torm clouds are gathering, there's tension in the air. Gangs of dour indie kids are gathering at bus stops and libraries, and an ominous muttering hum is tugging at the attention of unsuspecting music fans, up and down the country. People are uneasy, they can sense the metallic tang of danger in the air, and yet they are not sure where it comes from.

Seasoned forecasters are predicting that this, while not as severe as Hurricane Jeff - which swept over the musical landscape just before Christmas - is going to be a class 2 botherance front, and will result in a flood of blogging, tuts and impassioned self-righteousness.

Batten down the hatches, people, this could get messy...

Here's what the fuss is all about. There's a well-loved indie song called 'Hoppipolla' by Sigur Ros. It's one of those huge, landscapey, skyscrapey sort of songs, perfect as a soundtrack to sports or nature footage on TV, or a documentary about a man climbing a mountain. It's like a mystical, ethereal, slightly-musacky-but-still-brilliant version of Blur's 'The Universal', translated into a language which does not exist.

Now, a dance act called Chicane - yes, the people who made Bryan Adams sound like a robot - have remade the song, with an eye on getting clubbers to love it just as much as the indie fans and TV people do. But in order to make it club-friendly, they've had to change bits, lop off that epic drum beat and replace it with a ticky machine and handclaps.

This has clearly caused complications, and they've had no choice but to perform a full band-ectomy, and put in some pacemaker synths instead. The only trouble is, friends and relatives no longer recognise this new cyborg creation as the song they once loved, and they are understandably upset.

So, has it been worth the trouble? Well, yes and no. It depends where you're coming from. Dance music often pinches good ideas from the rock and pop sectors, and even hardened rocksnobs must admit that, if you were to hear this in a club situation, it's gonna feel less like a personal insult and more like an infiltration of the mainstream. Rocksnobs like that idea.

On the other hand, it's a bit hamfisted as a listening experience, and really doesn't do the original any favours. All we really have left is the spiralling piano motif, and there was always more to 'Hoppipolla' to just the one idea.

So, if you can, best let this storm just wash over you for now, and reinforce your foundations ready for this year's X Factor. Be safe!"

See the full feature on BBC Chart Blog here