Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Song: "Workstation"
Artist: Convert
Search Term: "Workstation"

I realize that hard trance techno like this is not intended for me to casually listen to on my laptop headphones while I drink coffee and read the morning updates on Wonkette; it's made for aggressive rave settings where steady, sustained 4/4 rhythms matter more than musical cleverness. (Or at least it was in 1991, when this track was released. This sort of thing can't possibly still be popular in anything approximating an "underground club scene," can it?) But even granting its utility as something propulsive and noisy for kids to dance to, "Workstation" doesn't even attempt to work on an artistic level. It's flecked with detuned doorbell noises and what appear to be the sounds of rankled parakeets, which I guess are Convert's halfhearted attempts at interesting timbres, but mostly what you're going to notice are the abrasive synths and a drum machine that's content to dispense the same factory preset beats as have appeared in every trance track you've ever heard.

This song did make me remember someone I hadn't thought about in years: This guy Mike, who looked like Dana Carvey and who worked with me in the receiving room at Barnes & Noble about ten years ago. He would play rubbish like this constantly and tell me about how the government was encoding subliminal messages into club music--a theory he claimed to have developed after he leapt through a window while listening to trance music on ecstasy. When he left Barnes & Noble, Mike asked for my phone number so we could get together and hang out. I was pretty proud of the scrap of paper I gave him, because every single character was written so illegibly that it could convincingly represent three or four different numbers.

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