Review: Gate – Saturday Night Fever

Gate - Staurday Night Fever coverJust like when Spinal Tap lose themselves in the labyrinth of the backstage area on their way to perform, I find myself unable to escape the airlock of the disco entrance corridor. I take endless turns down numerous dim hallways – tantalisingly close to the party in a nearby room – yet the rhythm and bass remain a dull and distant dirge, oozing through the walls that keep me out. I wade through muffled bass drum pulses and tinny PA spillage. I hear glimpses of the experience I should be having: horn samples shimmying like sequins over invertebrate synthesiser bass hooks, guitars snarling through cycles of motorway funk, electronics scattered through mirrorball delays. Michael Morley groans the melody like a drunken mess slumped against the wall in front of me, cast out into the corridor by nightclub security. His voice carries a slurred emblem of some slick, ferociously funky chorus line that I’ll never hear for myself.

At a certain point during each of these four pieces, I find myself getting further away from the music rather than closer. The rhythms loop themselves into dead ends. Morley stops singing. Strange ethereal melodies start to obscure the edges of my hearing like spools of old tape in anti-gravity, smothering the beats until I can’t hear them anymore. I stop staggering drunkenly in search of my nightclub. I start to feel pleasantly nauseated; veering in and out of consciousness to sounds that emulate amber lens flare and the blissful promise of sleep, too enamoured by the ambient wooze to care about dancing and socialising. By seven minutes into “Caked”, I could be in outer space. Electronics swirl like the lights on cockpit controls. Melodies shift between chords like planets looming in and out of view. Saturday slips into vague memory and imminent hangover.