Pepe Deluxé

Acts Playing South by Southwest

SXSW Records

Pepe Deluxé

Super Sound (Emperor Norton/Catskills)

I'm sitting here on terminal hold with AT&T, trying to correct a recurring billing error for the umpteenth time. Sheena Easton's "Morning Train" warbles in my ear, slowly rousing the terrorist lurking inside me. When someone finally answers the phone, I will be 500% more likely to brim with bile simply because I had to listen to bad music for 20 minutes. Does dentist-office music have to challenge a root canal on the threshold of pain? Helsinki's Pepe Deluxé offers an emphatic "No" on Super Sound. The retro-futuristic Finnish trio brings together two DJs and an obsessive vinyl scavenger to whip a smorgasbord of found sound into a volume of hip production music that's perfect for everything from car chases to candy commercials and calls on hold. Their objective seems to be stripping trip-hop beats and faraway samples from their former identities in order to create specific, pseudo-scientific atmospheres in the tradition of Muzak. "Woman in Blue" conjures a feeling of falling through a psychedelic time tunnel and landing in a Look magazine Carnaby St. pictorial, while "The Beat Experience" exploits a well-worn Seventies soul groove in tandem with the soothing, well-measured tones of a metaphysical motivational speaker. Perhaps the catchiest number here is "Everybody Pass Me By," a blues-based rush of slide guitar loops driven by a sauntering backbeat that could easily wind up selling beer. Then again, the title track's funky beach party go-go groove is all but irresistible to all but the least salacious hips. You've heard this all before, but you can't quite put your finger on where. That way, the music is familiarly reassuring without overwhelming the surrounding scenery. AT&T, are you listening? (Thursday, March 15, Waterloo Brewing Co., 11pm)


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