Review Summary: The two sides of Clive Tanaka: dance while you're hot, chill while you simmer.
Though the cassette was generally deemed obsolete once CD’s had taken over car stereos and the Discman had knocked the Walkman off its perch in a sales battle not quite as superhero-y as their names make it out to be, the format isn’t dead just yet. Leave it to the generation whose obsession with vintage has led to vinyl sales recording their biggest jump since 1991, cassettes are, in relative terms, surprisingly healthy amongst both indie musicians and listeners and for a guy like Clive Tanaka, that’s great news. In fact, it’s great news especially
for a guy like Tanaka because the two formats do justice to his music that a CD simply couldn’t.
Tanaka’s Jet Set Siempre No. 1
is split into two distinct sides; side A, “For Dance”, and side B, “For Romance”, and the music runs a pretty tight course with the titles. Side A’s “All Night, All Right” and “I Want You (So Bad)” come blazing right out of the disco-cum-house Daft Punk books, while “Neu Chicago” drops the heavy vocoder and instead fuels its poppy boy-girl duet with bubbly synths and the brand of youthful, quixotic longing that chillwave has spent the last two years hoping to recreate. The joy that underlines Side A is nothing short of irresistible and its tenacity for weaving hooks together should reel in just about any listener pining for France’s next electro-sensation.
The sound byte of wood (presumably a pier) creaking as waves roll in as Side B starts is pretty indicative of the 20-minutes to come, as the funk romp of Side A all but vanishes and the breezy loungetronica of “Skinjob” struts in on its cashmere slippers. The rest of Side B soothes in much the same manner – distant, cinematic strings soar through “International Heartbreaker”, soundtracking some ‘60s first-class airport lounge, though the breakbeat keeps it firmly grounded while everything else seems to flutter above your head. “Lonely For The Highscrapers” floats wistfully towards the end of the record in a way where you’d think it had freed itself from gravity, repeating a vocodered refrain of “you’re not the only one” and bouncing between tropical, percussive rhythms.
The best part about Jet Set Siempre No. 1
is that it’s a record for two moods. The first half (and specifically how “All Right, All Night” kicks it off) is powered by the sheer warm exuberance it emanates for pop and dance music, like something you can tell is sprung from the heart of an obsessive, while Side B jaunts along like it could be the soundtrack to just about anything (including every beach-napper’s favourite; absolutely nothing). Tanaka has done a tremendous job in creating an album as terrific as a whole as it is between its two sharply defined goals and if you’re looking for something to offset the winter malaise, you don’t need to look any further.