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LCD Soundsystem Week – Day 3: A James Murphy Collaboration Wishlist (Pt. 2)

TO CELEBRATE THE RECENT RELEASE OF OUR 33 1/3 ON  LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’S SOUND OF SILVER, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF LCD SOUNDSYSTEM WEEK BY AUTHOR RYAN LEAS!

Though he’s known as LCD Soundsystem’s solo mastermind, James Murphy has mingled with other artists, contemporaries and icons alike, via remixes or collaborations or just being friends. Yesterday, we offered a thought experiment: a wishlist featuring some artists we’d like to see Murphy collaborate with in a more sustained and substantial way. Today, we’re highlighting several more: 

TV On The Radio


Maybe because they have their own genius in-band producer in Dave Sitek, TV On The Radio haven’t had to bring in other minds too much for their work. They have their own entire universe sonically. But I can’t help but wonder what Murphy and these guys could cook up together. They are from the same era of Brooklyn indie, and took similar influences (Bowie being a very major one for each) and wrung wildly different results from them. Yet when you consider the Talking Heads/Prince leanings of TVOTR’s funkier stuff (think “Golden Age” or “Second Song”), or the New Order-isms of “Happy Idiot,” it’s easy to imagine Murphy digging in, geeking out over mutually beloved artists with this crew, and coming up with a supergroup opus for 21st century Brooklyn indie.

St. Vincent

I know of no real connection between St. Vincent and James Murphy, but Annie Clark’s space-age ice-queen project has catapulted her to the forefront of the same era of Brooklyn indie music occupied by Murphy, TVOTR, and other contemporaries like the National. Like Murphy, she is an exacting aesthetician as well as a gifted songwriter; her albums have taken on a precise claustrophobia even as they’ve grown groovier, and she excitingly warps the guitar beyond recognition. In a somewhat-reasonable fantasy world, it’s cool to imagine a meeting of the minds between her and Murphy, resulting in an album that’s driven by sonic obsession. Maybe it’d be a mis-match. Or maybe it’d give us an album that sounded flat-out amazing.

 

Kanye West

This one is more or less out of left-field, but hear me out. Kanye and Murphy are both people who toiled in the background, and who first identified themselves as producers before taking center-stage for themselves and proving themselves to be amongst the most important voices of their time. Both are perfectionists, yet that manifests in very different ways in each of them. Both are obsessed with minute sonic details and gestures. Whether it’s Murphy in “Losing My Edge” or Kanye’s stunning range of samples, clearly the two share a crate-digging fixation that lends them a broad, encyclopedic view of pop history. Sure, Kanye is more actively an iconclast, and driven to find new sounds, always breaking boundaries. Murphy was less interested in originality but found it anyway in how he collapsed various strains of pop history together. Part of the very way Kanye has achieved the consistent left-turns in his discography is by collecting a ton of collaborators and producers, and fusing their ideas into one maximalist vision of his own. Who knows what rabbitholes he and Murphy could go down together, and what could have resulted if Murphy had been in that stable of collaborators once upon a time.

 

Brian Eno

This is a big one, and an obvious one. Eno is one of the guys Murphy owes the most to, and a guy whose career has not only impacted other major influences of Murphy’s, but has also redefined sonic boundaries along the way. Think about LCD Soundsystem‘s “Great Release,” a straight-up Eno homage; he’d be working with one of his progenitors, like when he was in the room with Bowie. Eno could challenge Murphy and push his mindset into more abstract, longform projects divorced from the pop songcraft tradition. Or, maybe even more intriguingly, Murphy could ground Eno and they could make a late-era weird-pop masterpiece.

 


Sky Ferreira


Here’s another random one. Sky Ferreira’s instant-classic debut Night Time, My Time had a similar balance to Murphy’s work: there was gorgeous new wave gloss, and snarling punk grit. She might’ve been drawing on different references, and the end result was a much different animal than Murphy’s work. But one would imagine there has to be some overlap in their interests, and it’d be interesting to see what the aging luminary from one generation and the rising star of the new generation might wind up writing together.

 


David Byrne


And finally, David Byrne—one as major and clear-cut as Eno, an idea as simultaneously far-fetched and seemingly within reach as a Murphy/Bowie collab once was. Like with Eno and Bowie, there are traced of Byrne and Talking Heads in various places across LCD Soundsystem’s catalog. And Byrne is still a mostly vital artist, one of the last holdouts in an era where pretty much every classic artist has buried the hatchet and reunited the band after some wildly fractious dissolution decades past. He’s more interested in following his muse down whatever strange pathways it calls him to explore, collaborating with various artists and constantly kinda being around without making as big a mark as it feels like he should still be able to. Murphy had that phase of being more interested in chasing weird notions and plans than making pop music, of being a focal point in whatever cultural moment, himself. Like with Eno, it’s easy to imagine what sort of late-career masterwork could result from Murphy and Byrne linking up, the same as it’s easy to picture a late-career resurgence of Byrne’s starpower aided by the buzz of him working with an of-the-moment artist for whom he was such a massive influence.

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