More Songs about Food and Revolutionary Art
It’s hard to talk about 1997’s More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art without invoking the binaries it so artfully erased: that dance music can’t be both pleasurable and smart, that “high concept” is antithetical to “soul”, that stuff you listen to at parties won’t work at home on headphones. Carl Craig had already pledged himself to stewarding the tradition of Detroit techno (listen to his 1996 album as Paperclip People, The Secret Tapes of Dr. Eich), but Art was more deliberately eclectic, a dance album that strove for the breadth and sprawl of something like, say, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. Challenging and dissonant here (“Food and Art [In the Spirit of Revolution]”), straightforwardly pleasurable there (“Butterfly”), indebted to the gridlike rhythms of classic techno but curious about what happens when you start to pull them apart (“At Les”), Craig not only expanded the vocabulary of techno (much like fellow Detroiters Moodymann and Theo Parrish did for house), but he made space for producers like Ricardo Villalobos, whose music cultivates an almost avant-garde cast without ever leaving the dance floor. The album’s title is a play on Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings and Food, but it’s also a statement of purpose: food, revolutionary art—we need (and deserve) both.