Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Deadmau5 & Imogen Heap – Telemiscommunications

The collaboration you didn’t know you were anticipating and you still might not be anticipating now, I don’t know…


Iain Mew: When I was a teenager my family had the internet, but for a long time it was only on one shared computer with a dial-up connection which was slow, unreliable and had to be abandoned if someone wanted to use the phone. My burgeoning online friendships, and more, were mediated through arrangements to talk at specific times that could be disrupted by any number of things. “Telemiscommunications” is actually about telephone calls, but it still throws me back more than a decade to MSN outages, feelings of butterflies waiting for emails that never came, and anxious waits for siblings’ turns online to be done. Imogen Heap’s list of missed chances and almost connections joins with Deadmau5’s gloomy glitching to perfectly capture the mixture of banality and heartbreak that ensued. Even more so when Heap goes into all-out emotion in “If we could win just one small touch” and “Did I tell you I loved you today?” and the sound maintains a simultaneous distance. I love this song more than anything else I’ve heard from either act and am intrigued by the cover’s “&” rather than the “ft.” that Gerard Way got. “Telemiscommunications” also brings to mind another downbeat electronic song featuring a telephone, “This is the Dream of Evan and Chan”, which was of course the starting point for The Postal Service. On this evidence, if Deadmau5 and Imogen Heap were to similarly extend their collaboration I would be delighted.

Will Adams: I try to call home every few days. But classes get in the way, another email appears in my inbox, and soon I find myself with the terrible realization that I haven’t spoken to my parents in nearly three weeks. When I find the time, I call my home phone first, and when no one answers, I call my mother’s cell phone, and when she doesn’t pick up, I’ll try my father’s. Sometimes when they answer, and after we trade the how-are-you-I’m-fine formalities, they tell me that they’re on their way to the airport or a business dinner and they have to hang up, and the half hour I had blocked off in my schedule shrinks to two minutes. What a strange situation: technology makes communication incredibly easy today, but it seems just as difficult to just talk to someone. In “Telemiscommunications,” Deadmau5 and Imogen Heap amplify this tension, engineering a track that itself sounds like it’s breaking up: clipped percussion, grainy synth pads, and murky chords. The frustration with these crossed wires tumbles into alienation, further discouraging conversation. Imogen’s cracked voice swells as the song approaches the final chorus, eventually collapsing in the devastating climax: “Did I tell you I loved you today?” It’s repeated over and over, with the waning hope that the message will get through, and whether I could have done more to ensure that it did.

Anthony Easton: I think that Deadmau5 is one of the more consistently interesting new electronic music artists, and the bed of repeating sounds resembles water in a blackened cave. The problem is Imogen Heap’s voice just sits there, not working for or against the sound. 

Patrick St. Michel: Imogen Heap has done the whole snippets-of-real-life-turned-to-lyrics thing before — see the family Thanksgiving words on “Just For Now” — so it isn’t surprising to hear her tackling cell phone conversations. Like most of her music, it teeters between earnest and awkward (the thing is called “Telemiscommunications,” geez) and ultimately just settles in the middle. Deadmau5’s production, sparse and glowing, is easily the best element here.

Rebecca A. Gowns: This is quite nice. I’ve heard other things from both of these artists and I tend to not care for them, but this collaboration is solid: ethereal, minimalist, but not holding back.

Brad Shoup: Words, words et cetera… my bad convos usually feature one party doing all the talking, or canyons of pause. Once Heap moves away from whisper, I can stop thinking about accuracy (or that title). The backwards buzz is an excellent substitution for leaking silence, the piano decay the best approximation of inevitability. Somehow, when Heap asks “did I tell you I loved you today,” it’s really, really heartening. Like, alternate-history heartening.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Imogen Heap has always appeared overly mannered as though she overthinks emotional connections as much as she shares her emotional reactions to them. Her opening stream-of-consciousness recital of a back-and-forth conversation is a primo example of this. On one hand it sounds overly studied, as though Heap is going at lengths to describe an emotional ritual she has little experience in. (Remember how Tommy Wiseau awkwardly depicted male camaraderie in that tuxedo-football scene from The Room?) On the other hand, this fussed-over over-thinking gives her performances a certain edge, as though the listener is privy to a woman looking wide-eyed and on the edge of an emotional fallthrough. The awkwardly-titled “Telemiscommuncations” offers both sides of Heap, hewing close to irritating for-the-sake-of-it wordiness (e.g. “come back to horizontal islands”) and loveliness (the multi-tracked closing moments) from moment to moment. Deadmau5 recognises his guest is something of an original and smartly stays out of the way, crafting a minimal ping-pong sombre beat, letting Heap approach it in whatever way she sees fit. It’s a Deadmau5 track free from any dancefloor considerations, choosing to simply be an Imogen Heapified emotion-piece with all the pros and cons that come with the territory.

Alfred Soto: The trick was finding music commensurate with the impact of Heap’s heap of breathy, broken images, and Deadmau5’s broken piano chords and Amnesiac-era percussion crackles commensurates fine; but my tolerance can’t extend beyond impatience with Heap’s rhetorical questions.

Katherine St Asaph: “I join the queue on your answerphone, and all I am is holding breath — just pick up, I know you’re there,” Heap sang 11 years ago (christ). Presumably he’s picked up since then, as has Heap that topic; but Deadmau5 isn’t Guy Sigsworth — he may in fact be the sonic opposite — and his twitchy gloom, though moody and unexpected, isn’t a Brian Eno sample. It’s not as deep as it thinks it is, and it lends itself to cheap interpretations (everyone knew those guys in high school who’d, like, post on forums about how Imogen Heap was the only woman they listened to? Right? All I’m saying is, deadmau5 probably at least hung out with them), but it’s remarkably subtle. I’m just having trouble picking up a chorus.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s Laurie Anderson calling — on pay as you go, pay as you go — she said not to bother.

Reader average: [7.6] (5 votes)

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5 Responses to “Deadmau5 & Imogen Heap – Telemiscommunications”

  1. Wonderful reviews from Will and Iain. I felt it.

  2. Aw, thanks! Great writing from everyone else, too. As a huge Imogen fan, it’s interesting to read about these downsides to her that I had never considered.

  3. was expecting bosh, but this was decent!

    it’ll be better once it’s a lil b song

  4. Thank you Rebecca!

  5. CONOR’S GOT THE RIGHT IDEA albeit from a few years ago when Clams Casino was knocking this shit out of the park.