More people should know the name James F!@#$%^ Friedman. Raised on the D.C. rave scene, Friedman began winning attention as a deejay because of his insistence on championing new sounds in a way that avoided the snooty elitism many deejays revel in. His popular New York parties – All Wrong at Tribeca Grand (live acts) and Refused! Party at APT (deejay sets) – habitually invite uncovered talent such as Kompakt’s Michael Mayer, DJ Kaos and Hot Chip, some of whom are performing for the first time in the United States.
Although he’s already established in the New York party and deejay scene, Go Commando is Friedman’s official recorded debut. It’s a diverse collection of obscure beats and familiar threads tied together by an overarching uniformity achieved by Friedman’s seamless mixing style. The better-known sounds on Go Commando are buried within remixes, so nothing sounds too common, and fresh faces, such as David Gilmour Girls and Tom Vek, are incorporated among the tested standbys in a manner that avoids thrusting the entire record into a pretense-fest.
For example, recognizable pieces of Kele Okereke’s vocals from Bloc Party’s “Like Eating Glass (Black Strobe Mix)” creep into DJ T’s “Galaga,” and Photocall’s robot-rocking “Silver Clouds” transitions into M.A.N.D.Y.’s remix of “Pass This On” by the Knife, which maintains the original’s hauntingly Ladytron-esque vocals. Out Hud’s “It’s For You” stands out in its untouched version, but it arrives late enough to act refreshingly as the mix’s “I know this one!” moment. The mood of the entire record is kept to a uniform pace and electro-tone so well that even Tom Vek’s “Nothing But Green Lights,” the token indie-rock track, blends perfectly thanks to Kaos’s mix and Friedman’s decision to place it toward the end.
Only two tracks drag down Go Commando – both are Rapture/HushHush remixes that fail to match the mood of the remaining fourteen tracks. Opening the record with Annie’s “Me Plus One (Rapture/HushHush Remix)” sets forth a tone too playful for the music that follows, and the Rapture/HushHush’s take on Who Made Who’s “Space for Rent” locks into a bass grinding drone that distracts from the dance-floor burners that precede it. Aside from these moments, though, Go Commando sets a strong example of the work Friedman has long accomplished. Now maybe more people will notice the guy with the awesome middle name.