DAT POLITICS with KNIFEHANDCHOP, GLN and DJ TUFF LOVE at the Gladstone Ballroom (1214 Queen West), Friday (May 16). $10 advance. 416-531-4635. Rating: NNNNN
DAT Politics may be a three-piece laptop band from Lille, France, but don't expect any dour, serious, minimal glitch house. Instead, picture the sound your old Atari might make if you dropped it down the stairs a few times before plugging it into a distortion pedal. Playful, silly melodies that would sound more at home in a children's song get processed and mangled into a sound that threatens to make your brain explode.
Gaetan Collet, Claude Pailliot and Vincent Thierion have been making music together since high school, but started laptop project DAT Politics in 1998 in an effort to get more portable.
Using cheap laptops and shareware software, they've carried the DIY approach of punk rock through to their current work, which also shares punk's taste for noise and mistakes. One means they use to keep the possibility of mistakes and chaos in their digital compositions is by approaching songwriting and performance much the same way a traditional band might.
"It's completely live. We play music like a band," Pailliot explains from New York, where they're starting their North American tour. "Each of us has a part to play. We don't sync the laptops together, we just listen to each other and try to change our tempos to match each other. We have accidents sometimes, but it's part of the challenge. We like working with errors."
Some electronic artists have chosen to use freely distributed shareware programs as an anti-capitalism statement. Considering their name, you might expect DAT Politics to be thinking along those lines, but in reality convenience is a bigger factor.
"Originally, it was because we found the software for free on the Web, and it was very easy to use. We started to make music with that, and it ended up making our sound, so we continued to use it. It was actually originally created to make music for video games."
That would explain the Super-Mario-on-crack vibe that permeates their music, but doesn't really say much about why someone would want to make really silly experimental electronic music.
On the other hand, electronic music is generally too serious for its own good, so maybe they're onto something here. They've been getting more and more attention lately in the indie electronic scene. Chicks on Speed just released their last album, Plugs Plus, which features a slew of guest vocalists including Blectum from Blechdom, Matmos and Felix Kubin, as well as Kid 606 on keyboards.
"We're great fans of pop music and were already using some voice. In this case we had the opportunity to work with all these people who came to Lille. We'd wanted to do it for a long time.
"We are fans of experimental and pop music. Experimental pop music is maybe a good description."