LADYTRON'S REUBEN WU at Fez Batik (129 Peter), Friday (October 25). $15, advance $10. www.emperornorton.com.It's impossible not to have mixed emotions about the over-hyped electroclash movement.
While it has opened up a much-needed avenue for experimentation, it was defined and packaged so quickly and aggressively that much of the potential of its re-examination of 80s new wave and electro has been swamped by a sea of similar-sounding acts.
Liverpool's Ladytron are one of the pre-electroclash bands that unwittingly got swept into the category. Unfortunately, while their first single, He Took Her To A Movie, sounded revolutionary in 1999, the same formula is all too familiar these days.
"People interested in the band know that we were there before everyone else, making this kind of music with these kinds of sounds," Reuben Wu, founding member and touring DJ of the band, insists.
"The problem is that much of what's coming out now seems like a diluted impression of our sound. It takes the very easily noticed aspects of our music -- the octave bass lines, the synth sounds, the drum machine sounds, the icy-cold vocals -- and uses them as a blueprint for creating a tune.
"The difference with us is that we actually have songs and we're a real band. We play everything live."
And they use very little sequencing or computer power to make their robot music. They're now breaking in a drummer and bass player so they can dispense with the drum machines completely.
Their live capabilities make me want to ask, why are they sending one of their members out to DJ tour when they could play gigs?
"DJing has always been part of the band -- it's basically how I got involved. I started out as a DJ in Sheffield and Liverpool, and this is actually my first band. When I first met up with Danny (Hunt, co-founder of the band), I was frustrated as a DJ and was taking a break from it. The competitiveness killed my enjoyment of it.
"I like to play stuff that's not normally played in dance clubs, to do stuff that's unpredictable but at the same time will make people dance. Basically, what I'll play is formed around the backbone of electro -- stuff like Cabaret Voltaire and punk funk like Gang of Four. I'm not afraid of guitars."
One of the positive aspects of the new new wave is that this style of eclectic, era-hopping DJing now has a bigger audience. Club nights are popping up all over that focus on a wide variety of music while interest in conventional dance beats continues shrinking, forcing even mainstream DJs to dig deeper.
"There are so many clubs out there that play the same kind of music all night, which, as we can see with all the super-clubs closing down in the UK, people just aren't interested in any more. Now you're seeing other kinds of clubs starting up -- for instance, Trash, in London -- where they play all kinds of music. It's making people more open-minded. There's less of a social barrier between types of music.
"It's like a school disco, a whole mix of things that you like all in one DJ set. It keeps everyone refreshed and excited about it."