Mikael Stavöstrand, Dark Eyes Die A Little

[Lick My Deck]

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As a producer with roots in industrial music, Mikael Stavöstrand has a knack for negative aesthetics. His tracks are lean and mysterious, painting bleak landscapes by means of sinister bass lines, urgent beats and glistening found-sounds. Though Stavöstrand is impressively creative and capable as a solo artist, he reaches full potential when in the company of a talented vocalist. This first became clear on the Thema-released “Please My Pain,” when Big Bully provided a dose of warped R&B to make something weirdly soulful out of Stavöstrand’s minimal beats. On “Die A Little,” our man teams up with the sultry and insidious Katou. The result is a brilliantly drab EP of seductive house noir that would darken up any DJ set while remaining firmly in the groove.

Both sides of this EP on Lick My Deck make use of the same formula: Katou’s perverse sensuality compliments Stavöstrand’s grit and gloom to create something as erotic as it is menacing. The drums are thick and murky, the bass lines heavy and smudged. Katou moans with snide apathy, lending the tracks a hint of No Wave attitude, harkening back to femme fatales like Lydia Lunch or Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. On “Dark Eyes,” her voice is breathy, disaffected and sarcastic as she repeats the mantra, “I love you, I love you, I love you so much….” Her tone makes the trite lyrics sound vulgar, especially as Stavöstrand’s beat slithers and bumps. “Die A Little” feels a bit more fleshed out, with perkier high hats and synth wails that rise and descend, giving the track more foreword momentum than its clunky partner. Katou’s lyrics are a bit less kitschy, but still tainted by irony. “Dark Eyes” is the stronger of the two tracks, but both demand attention, if for no other reason than because they are decidedly songs. The sexy lyrics and post-punk vibe give these tracks too much life to be considered DJ tools, despite their clubbability. For my money, that makes this EP as refreshing as it is sexy and sinister.

Joel  on July 23, 2008 at 5:17 AM

Love the production work here. Have you heard Stavöstrand’s “At the bottom” (on GS)? Is it any good?

littlewhiteearbuds  on July 23, 2008 at 6:10 AM

I’ve heard and don’t care for it. This song, however, gets a thumbs up.

Will Lynch  on July 23, 2008 at 9:25 AM

I personally like “At the bottom,” but purely as a DJ tool. Its got a lot of great textures and some nicely fucked up vocal samples, but isn’t quite as interesting as the songs on this EP. Definitely easier to drop in a mix, though.

chrisdisco  on July 23, 2008 at 5:03 PM

‘dark eyes’ is a real winner. great track. don’t like the flip much, though. also, while i am liking stavostrand’s stuff there is a danger it is starting to get a bit same-ish.

Joe  on July 28, 2008 at 8:10 AM

good tracks! the liveset chris posted on ssgs is definitely worth a listen if you like stavostrand.
i still get a lot of mileage out of his Housedays EP too.


Little White Earbuds » LWE 2Q Reports: Top 5 Live PAs  on August 19, 2008 at 7:15 PM

[…] Mikael Stavöstrand @ Watergate: As I’ve said before on this site, I love this guy’s style. Much like his releases, this set has grim overtones to contrast its […]

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