22 March 1999… the world irrevocably changed for the better. Warp Records unleashed Windowlicker on the masses.
“Windowlicker” is, stylistically, AI porn music. Breakbeats, heavily manipulated vocals, it’s an Apple 2E’s wet dream. A classic 90 break-beat intro, consistent and slightly fucked up melodies, a “moist middle section”, and an uncompromising and abrasive ending. It was the entire 90’s distilled into one fucked up jawn we’re still yet to unravel. Sexual vocal tones gliding in and out of the mix (according to some fans the vocals are Richard D James’s own). DJ Mag labeled its sound perfectly really as “uncompromising cyborg R&B,” Fact labeled it “R&B/hip-hop written in glitches and breakbeats.” Whatever… ee at TC just think it’s timeless electronica and continues to get better as the world gets more warped. But that’s only half of the story because the 90’s were all about the video (remember this was the dark ages when computers just did weird un=useful shit and kids hung out, smoking dope and riding bicycles for fun) and in all reality it was the vid that gave this heavy hitter it’s ‘weight beyond class’ one-two combo.
Directed by Chris Cunningham (ala “Come to Daddy”) and filmed on location in LA Mr Cunningham took the time to construct a ten-minute parody of contemporary American gangsta hip-hop culture done so well its still breathtaking to watch. Two potty-mouthed LA chav’s are ‘window shopping’ for women (the French term for window shopping is faire du lèche-vitrine, which literally translates to “licking the windows”). They come across two “hoochies” who repeatedly turn down their advances.
The rest is… history.
Dinner party fact – there are 127 uses of profanity in the video dialogue segment (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word “fuck”. This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds. The track’s future focus paved the way for Flying Lotus’ Brainfeederisms, James Blake’s early 12’s, and dubstep in general so doesn’t sound all that out of place in 2020. The unpredictable drum syncopation, digital-dub found swounds and melodic bursts serve as a starting point for modern electronica period. But at the end of the 90’s this was a huge middle finger to any and all expectations as Y2K came into mass media focus. And therein lies its enduring evergreen appeal.
This is what’s golden… and so this Binkbeats live version excursion.