Soccer96 is comprised of Betamax and Danalogue, who comprised two-thirds of the brilliant London-based jazz/fusion/fuckingamazing band, The Comet is Coming. Their back catalogue is much more of a party than The Comet is Coming, which provides us with the soundtrack of mind expansion and consciousness. On Tactics, they are joined by Alabaster de Plume, a London-based saxophonist and poet. In other words, Soccer96 now has vocals!
Tactics is a 3-song ep that starts off with ‘I Was Gonna Fight Fascism,’ a seven-minute long jam that, at least for me, recalls LCD Soundsystem, which is the music that more often than not is in my ears when I run, usually their 2010 album, This Is Happening. But here, rather than the bitterness of shitty nights out and digging one’s neighbourhood and watching the women line up for the loo in the club, de Plume swears he was gonna fight fascism, but, you know, he got distracted and well, he didn’t. It’s the perfect soundtrack for our times, as we are sated by capitalism and all the ways our economic system exploits everyone, we can sit back and numb our brains playing Minecraft or going down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories on YouTube.
‘Children Will Dance’ kicks in with a funky beat built around a syncopated drum beat and a funky, propulsive bass. And once we get the break in the beat, this bouncy synth riff takes off, sounding a little like 1990. And then de Plume begins, his voice remains detached and hypnotic over the beat: ‘Children will dance/Money will be made,’ talking about a billion ways of exploitation. One of my favourite things about music is the discordance between lyrics and music. Think, for example, of The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend in a Coma,’ where Morrissey sings about, well, his girlfriend in a coma, over top of perhaps one of the happiest, bounciest tracks that Johnny Marr ever wrote. And so ‘Children Will Dance’ is that, as de Plume tracks the apocalypse, we’ve got this funky beat to dance our way into oblivion.
The ep ends with ‘Buy It,’ a vicious critique of our late capitalist, materialistic dystopian wonderland. Over an insistent beat and a hypnotizing organ, de Plume, in a detached, critical voice, lists of all the things we can just buy for happiness, and noting that there is another way forward. ‘Buy It’ bounces along for a good five minutes, and includes a wonderfully jazzy sax solo from de Plume over the hypnotic track, which seems to echo our reliance upon capitalism for our happiness. We’re in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century, we have seen our economies in most Western nations come to a halting stop, and yet, and yet. We refuse to see a better way forward, we refuse to see a possibility of something other than the endless greed of this consumer capitalist society, built on the exploitation of not just people a world away from us (like the Vietnamese workers who made my superdope Adidas Gazelle sneakers) to our neighbours, like that mother of four who works the opening shift at Dunking Donuts, and did so all through the lockdown, just so I can get my coffee in the morning (this one isn’t true, I hate Dunks, I do not go there, I make my own coffee at home, thank you). Just makes me wanna bash my head on the wall.
Taken together, Tactics is music for the revolution that not only will not be televised, it will not be streamed, live-tweeted, broadcast on TikTok. Why? Because it’s not gonna happen.