It was overlooked when it came out in 1997. It remains overlooked now. But Sluts’n’Strings & 909’s ‘Carrera’ album is the musical equivalent of an enormous chest brimming with sparkly and glittery things
In 1997, no doubt bolstered by the release of Daft Punk’s ‘Homework’ album, the world’s media loudly proclaimed Paris to be the new home of electronic music. I would respectfully suggest, however, that another Euro metropolis was responsible for a far more prodigious and interesting output at the time.
Vienna in the late 1990s boasted lush lounge-house duo Kruder & Dorfmeister and disco nerd Christopher Just, along with the likes of DJ DSL, Autorepeat, Sofa Surfers, Mego Records and a host of others. And it always seemed like having fun and not taking yourself too seriously were way more important to this lot than courting fame.
Patrick Pulsinger and Erdem Tunakan, aka Sluts’n’Strings & 909, were potential superstar DJs, but they clearly weren’t overly bothered by the idea. They switched project names with bewildering regularity and were rarely photographed. As such, they were extremely frustrating for those critics determined to bring them to a wider audience.
You had to admire their “fuck you” attitude, but that’s nothing without the music to back it up. And Sluts’n’Strings & 909’s ‘Carrera’ has it in spades. Originally released as a double 12-inch set, the album takes inspiration from everywhere – disco, techno and especially electro make up the foundations, but you’ll also hear a heavy dollop of cheeky jazz-funk and some hip hop swagger, as well as the strange, swirling atmospheres of the chill-out room. Rather like an amalgamation of so much of the great electronic music going on at the time, but wrapped up and reworked into something with its own distinct flavour.
So ‘Dear Trevor…’ sounds like Stevie Wonder jamming on his Moog over some Luke Vibert drum machine exercises and ‘Dig This!’ could be a long-lost Mo’ Wax trip hop classic. Indeed, James Lavelle was the only figure in the mainstream music industry to back Pulsinger and Tunakan, signing their sublime ‘Claire’ for his Excursions offshoot, albeit under yet another alias (iO). ‘Puta’ meanwhile slows down one of the funkier Pixies segments (listen closely and you’ll hear a groggy Black Francis imploring you to “shake your butt”) and layers it with digital watch bleepery and an incomprehensible Mexican voice muttering away in what is, depending on your frame of mind, either highly amusing or genuinely terrifying in a ‘Breaking Bad’ kind of way.
Then, among such madness, there are those moments where Pulsinger and Tunakan claim the dancefloor in ruthless fashion. Moments like ‘Put Me On!’, with its squashy synth bassline and perky electro groove. Moments like when a crashing breakbeat kicks through the front door of ‘Civilised’, instantly transforming its earnest Plaid-style polyrhythms into irresistible party fodder.
It probably doesn’t matter that ‘Carrera’ was overlooked at the time. Nor that it remains overlooked today, as my slightly depressing recent discovery that my favourite track had clocked up a total of just six plays on YouTube confirms. No problem, because it still sounds as good as the day it was driven off the garage forecourt and the time will surely come when the public will catch up with the gleaming Porsche that this album truly is.