Review: Lorenzo Senni At Ln-Cc
For some there may be a certain discrepancy in launching an album sonically and conceptually indebted to rave culture underneath an expensive clothes store in Dalston; ‘rave’ conjures up muddy fields or abandoned warehouses, an anything-goes attitude, and pushes the limits of respectability – there may be style, but it is the very opposite of fashion.
Walking down into the basement of LN-CC as PAN associate STILL plays a pleasing mix of contemporary dancehall and bass music, one senses the contradictions: scenesters there to be seen rub shoulders with up-for-it skinheads in Rotterdam Terror Corps t-shirts, while the smell of fancy perfume mingles with stale sweat and soon to be stale beer (later, a tube of Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat concealer is found discarded among empty tinnes). This might just be the perfect setting for the launch of Lorenzo Senni’s Persona, however, Senni doesn’t aim for nostalgic pastiche or romanticisation in his take on ‘rave’, but to play with our very notions of the concept altogether.
This begins at the very basic level of taste: Senni’s work draws heavily on perhaps the most derided form of dance music, trance. Written off as tasteless, tacky, overblown, ridiculous – yet taken seriously by Senni, and in an entirely sincere way: this is no exercise in ironic novelty – in the same way fellow moustache-wearer John Waters has spent decades dedicated to treating as high art the culture others treat as ‘trash’. Senni creates music that is at once complex, beautiful and exhilarating from influences more po-faced and less talented artists wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
This is very evident on Persona: a short album, with six songs in just over half an hour, but Senni’s performance of it on the evening isn’t a press-play run through. Instead album opener ‘Win in the Flat World’ comes somewhere in the middle, providing a giddy peak of euphoria as a contingent of friends and fans at the front chant “‘Renzo” with a passionate intensity. It’s reasonably well known that Senni is straight edge (a connection that informs his concept of the ‘rave voyeur’, looking in without ever being fully part of the naughtiness), and it makes sense: the euphoric here is much more like a sugar rush in front of Saturday morning cartoons than it is narcotic, with an innocent playfulness that teeters into poignancy. ‘Angel’ and ‘emotiva1234’ which follow are both excellent examples of this: while Senni’s music has an inherent sense of cheekiness, it’s not all grins and giddiness, and Persona is an album with a real if sometimes implacable emotional depth.
Senni’s set ends before there are any tears on the dance floor, and a reasonable amount of the crowd clear off – a regrettable decision on their part, with Gabber Eleganza and Mino Luchena, two pals of Senni, providing an incredibly entertaining ninety minutes of music. At this point, any hang ups about ‘taste’ must be thrown out the window, with a selection of sounds sure to drive out any self-serious chin strokers – gabber remixes of Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova’ and Beck’s ‘Loser’; ghetto house, most memorably DJ Isaac’s hilariously vulgar ‘Face Down, Ass Up’; Italian trap, including Dark Polo Gang’s ‘CC’, kindly identified for me by Senni himself, who watches the chaos he has unleashed unfold, occasionally rushing back in to join the fray. There is a sense of collective joy all too alien on London dance floors, ecstatic fun lacking in self-consciousness – it’s only a shame it couldn’t go on all night.