FELIX DA HOUSECAT with DJ SNEAK , AUBREY RICHARDS at Lucid (126 John), Saturday (June 19). $20. 416-345-8243. Rating: NNNNN
When Felix da Housecat first switched his funky Chicago house sound for his current 80s-inspired glam-rock punk disco infatuation, it was hard not to be dubious. Electroclash bandwagon jumper was the first thing to pop to mind. Thankfully, the music was original, catchy and funky as hell, so the doubts were quickly erased in anyone who gave it a chance. Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever is the new album, the second pursuing this oddball tangent, and is much more varied and eccentric than Kittenz And Thee Glitz. The most obvious difference is the absence of Miss Kittin, whose monotone chanting was a huge part of the flavour and tone of the last album.
"We agreed to not do another album, to keep that one special," Felix explains from Chicago. "Miss Kittin was doing her own stuff long before we hooked up, and as a woman, she's got something to prove - you know, that she doesn't need me."
In many ways, Kittenz And Thee Glitz was more in line with Miss Kittin's sound than Felix's. Considering that she's pushing her own album this summer, it's probably a good idea that she not to let her association with Felix overshadow her own career.
This time around, most of the vocals are handled by Neon Fever, who are kind of a new-wave-disco take on a 60s bubble-gum group.
"They were all just club kids I knew, characters. I wanted to put together a girl group for a while, and I wanted to use people who were fresh and hadn't been in the studio before."
That appreciation of the fresh and raw quality that novices can bring to music is something Felix knows from his own history. He first made his name as a producer at a very young age - he was only 15 when his first track was released. He admits some of the stuff from that era that didn't get released is pretty embarrassing, but stands behind the tracks that did make it to vinyl.
Unlike some producers who prefer to slave away in front of a computer a in dark apartment, Felix thrives on collaboration. He talks often of fun, and that shows in his music. Not that it's funny, but it's definitely not serious.
"The recording process is kind of chaotic. A lot of the time it's a big party in the studio. People bring their friends along, and everyone's just hanging out. Everyone there has to agree on everything - they're like the test audience."
One of the celebrities at this session was James Murphy, of the DFA production team and the man behind LCD Soundsystem. Felix describes him as a natural performer, and his cameo is definitely one of the high points of the album.
"I knew him before he was a star, I met him one night at Plant Bar years ago. He hadn't released anything yet, but Dominique Keegan sent me some demos, which included the Rapture's House Of Jealous Lovers and Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem. I was one of the first guys to play them."