Initially created as part of a marketing campaign with Nike and iTunes, 45:33 was supposedly designed to be the ideal jogging soundtrack. If you're familiar with the sardonic antics of James Murphy (a.k.a. LCD Soundsystem) you hear that background and wait for the punchline. Turns out there isn't one, which--of course--might be the joke. Recreated here as a series of continuous tracks, the composition has the arc of good workout music: It starts slow, works up a lather, then gradually winds down. 45:33 is mostly played straight, a big, bright rave-up peppered with hypnotic melodies and tongue-in-cheek samples. After the opening disco-fied, downtempo piano motif, the beats soon drop, packing in a focused momentum and deep, insistent thumps. It ends with a sparse, ambient hum that, while done perfectly well here, has been done elsewhere before, and better. Overall, listening to the ultra-cool Murphy drop the pretense and cut a rug is too fun to complain about. Three other tracks are included here: a version of the single "North American Scum" and two b-sides ("Hippie Priest Burn-Out," "Freak Out/Starry Eyes"). In combination, the entire package feels a little thrown together but should satisfy those iPod-deprived souls who missed it the first time around. -Matthew Cooke
Fucking working out. How I hate it. How I hate stepping out the door only to come back sweaty, vaguely pissed off, and not much more in shape. It's not that I don't have the gear: running shoes, iPod, neutral tee, the wherewithal to notice girls while praying the finish line was just a little closer. However, even with an array of devices and strategies, everyone knows that working out only works if you, uh, work. In short, there's no easy way out of stretching, running for half an hour, and stretching some more. I've heard it's all about your attitude. I also read somewhere that I should "just do it," but frankly, that always seemed like borderline-sarcastic taunting.
And now that LCD Soundsystem have sold out to the greatest American shoe company ever to co-opt popular culture, I really have no excuse. Okay, "sold out" is harsh, especially considering Nike's advertising and marketing track record: 1987's "Revolution" spot by Portland-based ad tycoons Wieden & Kennedy (who'd also worked with Lou Reed for Honda), the "Bo Knows" campaign of the late 80s, Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon wondering how MJ put so much height into his jump ("must be the shoes")-- at this point, they're less stealing from pop culture than contributing to it. And it doesn't hurt that these campaigns were wildly successful, so if James Murphy and company can condescend to the corporate ranks, far be it from me to cry foul.
Put simply, "45:33" (would that John Cage needed to shed those unsightly post-Columbus Day lbs.) is an original workout mix by LCDS. Commissioned by Nike and available at iTunes, the piece is purportedly based on "an arc designed for running," featuring new music by the band, pieced together like a DJ mix in a fashion that's apparently supposed to help me forget I'm hating life on the jogging trail. And somehow, it almost manages to do that. After taking it on a test run, I can attest that the music really does move forward similarly to my own metabolism, gradually building, holding a modest climax in the middle, and ending on a long, fluffy comedown. None of the music really qualifies as "songs," as there isn't much in the way of lyrics or big hooks beyond unobtrusive chants like "shame on you" or "no fun in space"-- though, as I see it, that's a plus for a running mix. There's nothing like being bogged down by music that demands too much attention while you're trying to exercise.
Things begin slowly with an unassuming analog synth line that gradually speeds up and introduces a hyper-tasteful, jazzy house piano line. A few minutes of building morphs the tune into DFA-flavored soft disco-rock, with Murphy's pronouncements, "You can't hide... your love away from me! Hey!" Subtly, the track is peppered with tambourine and a little extra kickdrum, and further morphs into a section I call "treadmill disco," crossing kinetic motorik and what sounds like the mechanical wheeze of exercise machines. When the bells enter with the melody, I start to wonder when this is going to be fleshed out for a new LCDS 12". That goes double for the following section, wherein Murphy opts for mid-tempo disco-funk (a la the first part of "Yeah"), eventually adding horns and the "no fun in space" refrain.
Things really take off at about the 28:30 mark with a horn break, and fast, glittery disco-rock that **PAGING DFA PRODUCTIONS** really should be expanded into a single. The cutting bassline and relentless, stone-faced pulse are almost perfectly tailored for the most active part of a workout-- although, even if you wouldn't come within a mile of a jogging trail on a bet, the hi-NRG is tough to deny. In fact, just when you might be ready for extra oxygen and an IV, the bottom falls into the first of two (!) cool-down sections, beginning with the "shimmering, harmonious tinkerbell cooing" section, followed by the merely "harmonious cooing" part. It's debatable whether or not a mixtape should be 20% comprised of the comedown, but then again, Nike is a big company: Never underestimate the unfit nature of the American consumer. In any case, my trial run ended with me all in one piece, and a lot of this music still in my head. Nice mix.
-Dominique Leone, October 20, 2006