Many eons ago, when Dr. Funkenstein made the second Emancipation Proclamation, he spoke a resounding eternal truth. But for all his cosmic wisdom and far-flung experimentation with the liberating effects of divine groove, the good Doctor never had a chance to shake that ass with the New Deal. From the first note of their two hour, two set performance at the Justice League last Thursday, the Deal channeled raw electricity from the Universal Source straight into the posterior regions of every willing victim in the house, with no consideration of where anybody's mind might be going.

If you haven't heard yet, the New Deal makes music that is unthinkable, undeniable, and utterly danceable. Each marathon jam spun by this Toronto trio is a physical epiphany that winds its way through the earhole and into the soul without any stops or distractions along the way. No lyrics, funky, stripped-down beats, and spiraling, trance-inducing melodies add up to music that is pure emotion. It's completely visceral and instinctual, circumventing the subjectivity and hesitation of the intellect at all costs. In the best possible way, the New Deal makes mindless music, the same way that the Buddha's serenity is mindless or Pan's feral nature is mindless. It's shamelessly extroverted music that precedes thought; it ignores the rational mind and goes straight for the playful soul.

If a DJ was spinning it, it'd be called House. But this music is all live: fuzzy digi/analog synths, a tiny jazz drum kit, and smooth humming bass, commingling clean and seamless. I watched people wanting to turn and dance away from the stage to lose themselves as they would for a DJ, but couldn't, hypnotized by the power and focus of these three musicians erupting with ElectroSoul. The sound they produced was flawless and completely unique, and inspired a unique, giddy reaction from the crowd, so chaotically blissful that no one really knew what to do with themselves in the pandemonium but move like mad.

The best way to describe this sensation is to tell you that I had none at all. In a way it really freaked me out: I'm a writer, I have very verbal reactions to all art forms, especially good music. Typically I hear something that rocks and my instinct is to describe it in words. But at this show, my second time getting Dealt, I had nothing to write, no words spilled onto the page. I was inspired to dance, not to write. Instead of trying to verbally register my state of speechlessness, I figured fuck it, stuck the notebook back in my pocket and let it all go. Listen to the instinct and just dance. The New Deal are purveryors of a musical ethic that speaks to everyone who's ever lost all inhibitions and deliberations on the dancefloor. It's the Philosophy of the Groove, and it runs deeper than you might think.

...same philosophy goes with setlists: don't try to figure it out, just enjoy what you hear...

Jonathan Zwickel
JamBase San Francisco Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 5/1/01]

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