As the chorus for ‘Purple Rain’ rang out of First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis on a humid August evening in 1983, no one sang along. The show was a fundraiser for the Minnesota Dance Theatre, where Prince and his band The Revolution had been quietly rehearsing for his first motion picture of the same name. The song was being performed for the first time in public, with newly recruited guitarist Wendy Melvoin strumming the chorus-smeared intro chords, aged just 19.
By the time James Murphy made it to the studio to record LCD Soundsystem’s second album, he’d already been a live sound engineer, a bouncer, label owner, prolific remixer, had challenged (all of) Oasis to a fight in the mid-’90s, contributed production work to David Holmes’ seminal ‘Bow Down To The Exit Sign’, said no to a collab with Janet Jackson, and turned down a job as the first staff writer on what became Seinfeld.
When the time came to record the follow up to ‘LCD Soundsystem’, the pressure Murphy put on himself began to mount. In a 2010 interview, he claimed, “Making ‘Sound Of Silver’ was very emotional, at times I just hated making that record.” An unlikely breakthrough came in the form of a commission from Nike, who asked Murphy to create a long-form piece of music to accompany joggers, with a defined brief that relieved him from the daunting nature of open-ended creativity.
Motorbass were the gently beating heart of French dance music in the 1990s, the duo’s octopus arms encircling everything positive that would come to pass in the scene’s French touch pomp. The duo consisted of Étienne de Crécy, who would record the epochal Super Discount albums, and Philippe Zdar, later of Cassius and an acclaimed producer and mixer for the likes of Phoenix, the Beastie Boys and Cat Power.