Armand Van Helden Nympho

Armand Van Helden Nympho

2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5

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A dance producer, a pussy hound, and a self-described Mongoloid, Armand Van Helden was never one to ride the front end of a trend. His 2001 LP Ghandi Khan, in which he boasted of being on a first name basis with the “philosophies of Khalil Gibran,” came with the announcement “trance sucks in case you need an update; it’s white, too white, Republican Nazi white.” Too bad most of his Caucasian targets had moved onto chill-out compilations. Or Bruce Springsteen, since, in a case of uncharacteristic serendipity, the Arabic-sample heavy album streeted within weeks of al Qaida’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Suddenly, skits about “oxtail and curry goat” seemed, well, current by Armandian standards; and his literal-minded, loop-until-dizzy aesthetic reached some sort of apotheosis. (“The Robots Are Cumming” is house-as-jackhammer, like one of those machines that let you ass-fuck yourself…err, that someone told me about.) It was punk against sampled tablas and ouds, and on the leading edge of the mash-up revolution. Small wonder it’s treated like the worst dance album ever made.

That was four years ago, and it almost seems like dance music has been standing against a wall since then, hopelessly mired in its hair metal phase and tapping its foot in impatience waiting for Armand to provide another trend requiem in the same way 2 Future 4 U soundtracked the sunset of filtered disco. Like most hair metal, Armand’s fashionably late Nympho takes itself very seriously. Seriously as in gone are the jokes about fucking mafia boss’s daughters in the ass seriously. Seriously as in ditching the gold chains and fake genre-coining terminology “hip-house” in favor of electroclash and emo-cum-new wave retro seriously. Seriously like if this album could wear clothes, they would be black and pink Blondie concert tees wrapped in bumblebee-yellow police hazard tape and capped with blue lipstick seriously. What was that about “Republican Nazi white,” Armand?

Nympho is so carefully serious that every last song sounds like the ones surrounding it. I’m not just talking about mindless, aggressive loops, because both of the previously released singles “Hear My Name” and “My My My” demonstrate a solid understanding of the art of dance-pop songcrafting. No, I’m talking about the gear-grinding faux-Moroder basslines (which are so high-pitched that they probably ought to be tenorlines), the fuzz guitar licks borrowed from Vitalic’s OK Cowboy (the official Dance Album of 2005 almost by default), the emotionally constipated vocals from Brainkiller and, appropriately, electroclash tarts du hier Spalding Rockwell. There’s a lot of parallels to be drawn between Nympho and Daft Punk’s dancefloor euthanasia Human After All. Both swallow a glass of barium to reveal ulcers in the funk-devoid gut of house music of late. But while HAA (oh, I finally get the joke!) is a purposefully irritating joke on its audience, told in completely bad faith, Nympho sounds fairly earnest in comparison. The breakout track “Into Your Eyes” uses an Andy Taylor riff, uplifting rock pap a la Genesis, as the foundation for a fist-pumping, house approximation of the good intentions behind blue-eyed soul. “When I look into your eyes, I could love you ‘til forever” is pretty far from “When I call your house after work, I want that koochy and I’ll make it squirt.” Let’s hope he hasn’t forgotten how to.

Release Date
September 15, 2005
Label
Ultra
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