Sunday, May 20, 2007

Orlando Julius - Disco Hi Life

Orlando Julius - "Disco Hi Life"

Once a year, Borders rounds up all of its damaged and discontinued merchandise, the odd items that the distributors refuse to take back and anything else that corporate decides not to carry any longer, and puts it up on a discount rack for customers to pick over for the next few weeks. 95% of this is virtually unsellable merchandise -- outdated computer books, seasonal merchandise, bargain DVDs -- that doesn't start to move off the shelves until it's discounted 50% off or more. Wait a few more weeks and prices fall even more, down to 75% off and eventually to just $1 per item. Only lucky customers (or lucky employees who horde their choices behind the counter for weeks) will find anything worthwhile at this point, especially when it comes to CDs. There's usually plenty of imports to choose from, though mostly singles, but once in a while something more substantial can be found.

I was lucky (or so I thought at the time) to find a 2-disc set of mixed Afropop and downtempo cuts. The package itself was worth the dollar I spent on it, but the music was surprisingly good, better than most chillout compilations that litter the dance music shelves in most chainstores here. I wish I still had it. I hate to think what it might cost if I had to order it again.

The first time that I listened to the mix, I was suffering from a severe migraine headache, and hoped that some Excederin, a damp rag over my face, and some mellow music would help ease my pain. My headaches now aren't nearly as bad as the ones I had when I was a kid, but when they hit, this is still the only way I know how to deal with them. I'll usually fall asleep and wake up a few hours later with a mixture of relief that my pain has finally passed, and regret that my circadian rhythm has likely been seriously fucked for the night. I put the first disc into my changer, turned out the lights and stretched out diagonally across my futon, which was too short to stretch out on vertically. Now that I have a "real" bed again, this isn't a problem.

Anyway, I never finished listening to either disc of this mix. What I heard was very good, but ten tracks in on disc one, the disc became unplayable and would skip in a regular and amazingly seamless three-minute loop of "Disco Hi Life" by Orlando Julius. In the half-awake and delirious state that I woke up in about two hours later, I wasn't prepared to understand why my CD player was still playing or why this song was still playing after ten, fifteen, and twenty minutes, but never changing. It never occurred to me that this might be unusual. Instead, I wondered just what, exactly, a disco "highlight" was, and somehow determined that it was some kind of punctuated sound that a signer could demand or call for ("Do it do it do it") on cue from his band. Was he actually summoning the horns that came in after the chorus? I know this sounds ridiculous, like trying to explain an illogical dream to someone. But that's basically what it was, so...

Later I checked the surface of the disc. A strange discoloration on the bottom of it, almost like a stain, radiated outward from the center. Disc two suffered from a similar malady and played even less before skipping itself into oblivion. Maybe that's why the set was on sale. I didn't really care, though. "Enjoy yourself and be happy." I dare anyone to listen to this on repeat and not give in to the power of suggestion.

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