Although hip-house is no longer a genre many dancers think about, its demise has not halted the dozens of house tracks whose shtick involves ranting, loosely scripted spoken vocals. Sometimes the master of ceremonies is trying to make a point, other times it’s more like being a fly on the wall. I’ve rarely bought into the concept that producers’ conversational prattle is much more interesting than my own; whether it was Villalobos enjoying sushi on “Andruic & Japan,” Diddy pleading for longer tracks on “The DJ,” or the vulgar boasts of Pimp Jackson, these diatribes often seem more distracting than helpful to dancers’ attempts to get into the groove. Nina Kraviz, who was one 2009’s big gainers and affiliated with others as part of the Underground Quality stable, has proven not to be immune from the appeal of chatter, as evinced on “Pain In The Ass.” First appearing on REKIDS owner Matt Edwards’ Fabric mix, the flippant track has been paired with “I’m Gonna Get You” for Kraviz’s solo REKIDS debut.
“Pain In The Ass” falls somewhere between the single-minded soliloquy of Elektrochemie’s “Mucky Star” and Nikki’s snarling, almost rap-like rebuke in Ray Okpara’s “Brainows,” both of which insist on hammering single chords while their vocalists let loose. Kraviz is overheard musing on the beauty of survival from beneath heavy eyelids, a very anonymous chord thrumming in the background, enmeshed in deliberate 808 programming. As she begins a rhythmic cadence demanding to “get my body to that shit,” the track feels complete in its attempts to fill the zoned out skulls of decadent clubbers with equally vapid music. Spoken narratives also play a role in B-side “I’m Gonna Get You,” but the execution is quite obviously more considered and fleshed out. Kraviz vigorously plays the role of a man (or transsexual, I suppose) who believes “sex is very important to the type of image that you create,” and admits, “I have to concentrate to stop my cock from becoming so hard” at the thought of an unnamed “you.” The juxtaposition of gender and the frankness of her monologue are arresting, but they’re only an aperitif for her singing and lush organ pads and vamps. Harmonizing with a dropped-pitch twin of herself, Kraviz unlocks a hauntingly catchy chorus comparable to Fever Ray. I’m not surprised the more lowbrow of Nina Kraviz’s tirade-laced tracks, “Pain In The Ass,” is more popular, but I am disappointed that her better tunes, “I’m Gonna Get You” included, haven’t drawn the same support. Judging by the caliber of her 2009 releases, I can’t imagine it will define her oeuvre for very long.