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LCD Soundsystem and the space-time continuum 

Wednesday, Jun 2 2010
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Dear James Murphy: In recent weeks, some media organizations have credited you with the assertion that your band LCD Soundsystem's most recent album, This Is Happening, will be its last. According to you, you're done. There'll be no more stripping down and pumping up synthy arena anthems and no-wave musings to reveal their improbable, delightful essence of rock-club sentiment. No more jetting around the world, selling out shows like this Thursday's at the Fillmore. No more lines of adoring fans singing along to those critically acclaimed pop gems of yours that came to characterize the spirit of the '00s.

So what, then? You cite other possible projects, like your work with Pat Mahoney in Free Energy and producing acts for your DFA label. Maybe you'll be scoring more indie Ben Stiller movies and Nike-sponsored step-aerobic workouts.

Nice try. We know what you're really up to. We are on to you, sir. And we think you owe it to your fans, the American public, and the international scientific community to finally come clean.

James Murphy, admit it. You are a time traveler. Yes, you, with your music that belongs on the radio at all hours of the day, your finger always on the pulse of the now. We hear how those engineering and rearranging skills are just a little too good — as if your wide-open funnel of influences has been gathering samples not just from dance-rock's past but also from some place, some time, out beyond our current understanding. You are busted, and we say 'fess up.

History records that you were born in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. You've noted in past interviews that you spent many youthful afternoons "sifting through the history" of pop music at the Princeton Record Exchange. And we're to believe this is "normal" for a schoolboy? Conveniently, you did not mention how short a walk it was from there to Princeton University's Department of Astrophysical Sciences. Sure, just a normal kid, popping wheelies on dirt bikes and chatting with friends at coffee shops about — oh, let's see, maybe the ways in which quantum entanglement might theoretically prefigure a mechanism for faster-than-light communication or time travel? Well?

The lyrics in that single of yours, "Losing My Edge," weren't really about resisting scenester obsolescence with irony and self-deprecation at all, were they? In fact, they were bluntly confessional. "I was there in 1968," you said, "at the first Can show in Cologne," even though you are widely reported to have been born in 1970. "I was there in 1974, at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City." You really were, weren't you? And not as a little kid. On another occasion, you told us: "Bear in mind, we all fall behind, from time to time." And what were you getting at there, eh? "Disco Infiltrator," indeed.

Just what was your sonic agenda, James Murphy? Did you come here to protect us, or to ruin us for anyone else? Has your mission been accomplished? And now, are you leaving us forever? Does the term "forever" even mean anything to you? You say that you don't know the future of LCD Soundsystem, but you aren't fooling anyone. Of course you know how it all ends, and begins again.

So tell us. Look, you needn't go just because your secret is out. If we mainstreamers can appreciate your catchy homages to underground artists that we'd otherwise find threatening, maybe now we're ready to comprehend whatever other profound knowledge you've been keeping from us. What do you think? We cool?

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Patrick Knowles

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