We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
There’s a bit of a Cinderella story happening on In Flagranti’s Brash & Vulgar. It’s a futuristic, lascivious one, though, probably with its fair share of sex droids, orgasmatrons, and other vaguely pornographic future-retro set pieces. The bicontinental duo (Alex Grool resides in Basel, Switzerland, Alex Crnobrnja in New York) scours boxes of cast-off vinyl in thrift shops, second-hand stores, and flea markets for hidden gems—breaks, melodies, synthesizer garbage—to use for disco kindling. Nothing new there, certainly, and were this hip-hop, the story might end with a hit record. But with In Flagranti, those samples wind up shuffled back and forth over the Internet, looped into gaudy patterns, paired with tasteless cover art, and condemned to inspire salacious behavior on the dance-floor. As with the duo’s past releases—cowbell-fueled punk-funk singles like 2008’s “Business Acumen” and the group’s first full-length, 2006’s Wronger Than Anyone Else—Brash & Vulgar finds Grool and Crnobrnja tearing the rhythms out of old disco tunes only to cut and paste them back into disco. Well, nu-disco, really—In Flagranti’s compositions owe more to modern Kraftwerk-inspired artists like German house producer Isolee than they do Tom Moulton. For instance, “It Was Like Nothing Before or Since” is six-and-a-half minutes of pulsing drum machines and a vocal that’s been slowed down to the kind of gender-neutral dronethat evokes an SSRI-gobbling android. But In Flagranti does have a knack for getting some flesh onto the machine. The queer, burbling rhythms and octave bass line of “I Can Thrill and Delight” implies some modicum of humanity, even if it’s one that’s been kidnapped from another time and zapped back to life with electricity. Much like the Magic Fingers vibrating hotel beds of yesteryear, Brash & Vulgar is a sleazy relic of another time. It has no soul, but it can turn you on.