It's 3am on a Sunday morning; after a hard evening's clubbing you and your bestest of comrades make (what at the time seems like) a direct line for the kitchen. It's at about this time you realise this room is far too bright for the state you're in. After gathering what food you can to satisfy your craving (sounding familiar yet?) you head for the stained, worn sofa, tripping over your own heavy heels in the process. You're leathered. As you recline, your head involuntarily finds its way to the TV screen. On it is something not quite classifiable, a little bit different, but intriguing none the less. You're brain sneers at the complexity, but eagerly anticipates more, relishing the exercise. Cue Male Or Female.
Under the somewhat pretentious sub-title, "Primitive Reflections Twisted From Sound", dance.com's Male Or Female is dance music of apocalyptic proportion. Boasting two and a half hours of music videos along with an interactive feature, this collection of dark dance music is definitely not for the amateur fan, paddling in the sea of dance, but rather one who wants to fight against forceful currents and colossal waves, revelling in a genre they love.
The videos are warped and twisted, bending the mind of anyone who dares watch them. Computer generated noodlings are almost hypnotic in effect. They don't do much, but make compelling viewing, a hypnosis that complements the music - a perfect marriage.
The songs are dark, intricate, but not all together unwelcoming. Instead they invite you on their trip, transcending convention, to their own little world where dance is Lord, and you are the slave.
Technically, the songs are well produced, and offer a welcome diversity in instrumentation. At times, the accompanying audio CD sounds like the Chemical Brothers with multi-layered, seemingly experimental adventure: Skeleton Toy in particular is testament to this. However, this is not easy listening stuff. If you're holding a dance convention in your bedroom, then fine; if not, these songs are tricky to listen to, somewhat hostile in nature.
The interactive feature sees you take control of Pixelman, a "lonely" 3D character with a mysterious past that you must try to piece together. In the process you are taken through bleak urban landscape "along the gap between the world of the living and the world of the dead". As you do so, you embark on many videos along the way, some of which are simply too confusing, surreal, and haunting to explain. Technologically dance.com has produced something very clever - as well the interactive feature the crystal clear surround sound mastering only enhances the other-worldly nature of Male Or Female.
If the seedier side of dance music is your thing, then this is a must, full of creative brilliance. But this DVD it seems is targeted at only those people, and is unsympathetic to someone with a mere interest in what it has to offer.