On Working Class Woman, Marie Davidson grounds neurotic techno in the realities of being a touring musician | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On Working Class Woman, Marie Davidson grounds neurotic techno in the realities of being a touring musician 

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click to enlarge Marie Davidson

Marie Davidson

John Londono

In the relationship between musician and listener, seduction is an overrated quality; isn’t the idea that an artist has to woo their audience to welcome them and create a sense of intimacy kind of degrading? On her 2018 album, Working Class Woman (Ninja Tune), Canadian electronic producer and singer Marie Davidson seems to suggest that a far better option is to foreground a shared, deeply felt sense of disgust. The record’s opening triptych—“Your Biggest Fan,” “Work It,” and “The Psychologist”—pairs modular synth workouts with arrhythmic, sneering rambles about the high-pressure insanities experienced by touring electronic musicians. Davidson carries this concept beyond underground dance music scene banter and inside jokes, and into the general anxieties of modern-day working life. The narrative abruptly recedes after those three tracks, but the themes continue throughout the album. Ambient-leaning tracks such as “Day Dreaming” and “La Chambre Intérieure” unspool with a striking physicality, while the psychodrama of “The Tunnel” steers more toward the chaotic noise-dance associated with labels such as Halcyon Veil and NON. The emotional register of the record veers between terror and camp (a common duality in sounds influenced by the DJs at Berlin’s Berghain nightclub), much like a B-movie horror. At times, the tracks in the latter half of the album meander toward incoherence, but everything snaps back into place in the understated highlight “So Right.” A swooning nod to the sublimity of connection on the dance floor, Working Class Woman is a reminder that while DJing might be work—and tough work at that—the music it brings forth can be deliriously transcendent for artist and listener alike.   v

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