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  Miss Kittin - What About Me?
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5

by Russ Marshalek
photos courtesy of Astralwerks

Photos courtesy of Astralwerks It was the anthem for a new wave, and it was the New Wave anthem: Caroline Herve (better known to the masses as the inimitable Miss Kittin) sleepily purring her way through "Frank Sinatra," the tongue-in-cheek ode to the electroclash excess heard 'round the world, produced with her Gigolo Records label mate, The Hacker. It was soon after that she'd play siren to another producer, this time appearing on several tracks on the Golden Boy album, Or. Vocalist guest spot after guest spot seemed inevitable, as Kittin's appearance on Felix Da Housecat's now-classic (to the point of burnout) "Silver Screen Shower Scene" from his Kittenz And Thee Glitz album cemented her place as THE voice of the burgeoning electroclash nation.

There was just one problem: that was a label Kittin never wanted. Always more of a contemporary of such forward-thinking electro and tech DJs/producers/vocalists as Ellen Allien and Andrea Parker, being categorized, labeled and shelved as an icon of a pretentious faux sub-genre was not doing any justice to Kittin. "She doesn't really DO anything," the argument went. "She just shows up, talks a little bit, and gets horrifically messed up. She's the Courtney Love of electro."

It's no wonder then, that upon opening the case for Miss Kittin's debut solo album, I Com (on Astralwerks), the first thing you see is, scrawled circular around the CD itself, a statement from Kittin ripe with an underlying venom: "I heard someone saying there should NOT be any 'Miss Kittin' section in record stores, Butt (sic) a 'Featuring Miss Kittin' one." She's been listening, she's heard the rumors and the gossip, and she's fully aware that, to most people, the I Com album was never going to exist. Not just her vocals, but her production skill are on display, and the album claws away at any preconceived notions that could once have pigeonholed both her skills and her relevance to dance music.

The first track, "Professional Distortion," throws the album immediately into a sense of urgency, and also establishes the fact that Kittin has not toned down her trademark wit for her solo debut; in fact, she's honed it, sharpened it, and turned it into a self-scathing weapon of mass destruction to amuse those who listen with their feet and their brain. From the Bpitchcontrol-esque scattered beats laced with crashing-yet-harmonic guitar riffs, Kittin begins to take her fame apart bit by bit. "I have to write/I have to play records all night/I'm in the loop/I AM the loop," she announces, before taking the song's chorus to slashing heights. Forget Miss Kittin the DJ: we're witnessing the birth of Kittin, the ripping, liberated frontwoman.

Photos courtesy of Astralwerks The second track, "Requiem for a Hit," has Kittin not just taking the piss out of Ghetto Tech, but completely flipping the script on what's notably a misogynistic genre. After wrapping her fingers around "Beat That Bitch With A Bat," over a gorgeously out-of-place synth breakdown, Kittin sings "Beat... dis bitch... with a hit." Hilarious and jaw-droppingly refreshing, all at once.

The rest of I Com has Kittin wearing her heart, her humor and her influences on her sleeve, from the minimal tech-funk of "Happy Violentine," to the interstate love-song that is "Meet Sue Be She" (an ode to Kittin's manager, another swat at her now-infamy), to the swirling punk-tech that is "Soundtrack Of Now," which serves as a reunion between her and The Hacker. The album's most heartfelt, off-guard moment, though, comes at the disc's midpoint, with "Dub About Me," a track that's been showing up to close her DJ sets since late 2003. With her vocals at times almost buried underneath a whispery groove reminiscent of a danceable Mira Calix, Kittin sings (yes, SINGS) with a heretofore unseen honesty and openness: "I don't know what you want/I don't know what you need." She nearly pleads, "And baby, what about me?" This is not your hipster friend's Miss Kittin. And Kittin strips herself down even more, so much so you'd think you could call her Caroline should you see her in the grocery store, with "I Come.Com," an ambient sensualistic fantasy scene delving into Kittin's inner psyche.

"Before we begin anything I have to say that I'm undercover", Miss Kittin explains near the beginning of I Com, "and my name won't appear anywhere. It's just between you and me." It's this sense of intimacy, of Kittin finally getting the chance to find both her voice and her sound, that permiates throughout I Com. It's a reward for her fans, for those listeners who've understood that the Miss Kittin persona isn't a guise, a la Debbie Harry's Blondie character. It's Caroline Herve herself, showing the world little bits and pieces at a time, as she sees fit. And this time around, she's cut herself open to reveal a huge chunk. To see a DJ tour in support of this album would be a huge disservice both to the music and to the honesty Kittin's brought to the table. It's about time the world was shown that this Kittin has claws and can hold her own amongst the ranks of talented female singer/songwriter/producers-because I Com establishes her as exactly that.

At Amazon.com

Miss Kittin - I Com

Disc 1:

  1. Professional Distortion
  2. Requiem for a Hit
  3. Happy Violentine
  4. Meet Sue Be She
  5. Kiss Factory
  6. Allergic
  7. Soundtrack of Now
  8. Dub About Me
  9. Clone Me
  10. 3eme Sexe
  11. I Come.com
  12. Neukölln 2



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