On the other hand, it's very simple. Suppose you didn't know re-edits existed, and you heard Mmm, Bettty. Would you get excited? Would you dance? I take the latter view. Dance music has a very clear purpose, and whether it's re-edited, sampled, digital or analogue has little bearing on that. Mmm, Bettty has ideas, grooves, surprises and a clear aesthetic and I can't ask for much more than that from an album.
It's no secret that Betty Botox is JD Twitch from Optimo, a man who quite possibly owns more records than every RA reader combined. Because of this, you're highly unlikely to know the originals of many of these tracks and, indeed, that's somewhat the intention—to rescue these grooves from vinyl obsolescence and create beat-matchable versions for modern club play.
The thing that really jumps out about Mmm, Bettty is that, despite the diversity of the source material, it all has a similar 'industrodelic' feel—clanky awkward rhythms meshing with off-centre sound effects and blank vocals. It's a far cry from the Paradise Garage/Loft vision of disco, but is compelling precisely for that reason: Love it or hate it, it's certainly original. I can't think of any other DJ or producer out there who does anything remotely similar.
Key moments here are the amazing bongo odyssey of "Dragon Balls" (originally by Japanese house producers "Flying Rhythms"). It's just drums and the occasional yawp, and it doesn't last nearly long enough as the drums ripple, curl and echo around. It's so amazing in headphones that I'm slightly fearful of ever hearing it in a club. "Et" consists of robotic pigeon coos overlaid with ludicrous spanglish stream-of-consciousness spoken word lyrics. It's an "atmosphere" piece, but will satisfy anyone's need for that essential "weird crap to play at after parties" section in your record collection.
We do get some more straightforward disco cuts here as well: "Jive Baby on a Saturday Night," "Beginning of the Heartbreak" and "Greater Reward" all deliver a satisfying 4/4 stomp and groovy bassline, but are far from straightforward in approach, all containing those slightly dislocated sonics that characterize an Optimo mix. Best of all is the curiously sexless but still horribly sleazy "Diskomo" by the Residents.
If you "know what you like and like what you know," I'd probably avoid this release, but if you gravitate towards the odd and anachronistic, Mmm, Bettty could just be your favourite album of the year.
Wed / 17 Sep 2008
01. The Jellies - Jive Baby on a Saturday Night
02. Love of Life Orchestra - Beginning of The Heartbreak
03. The Residents - Diskomo
04. Severed Heads - Greater Reward (Dub)
05. Pankow - Boys and Girls
06. Carlos Peron - Et
07. Hawkwind - Valium Ten
08. Flying Rhythms - Doragon Balls
09. Zed - Fremen (Naum Gabo's Flying Saucer Edit)