Alan Palomo, better known as Neon Indian, weaves disco bass lines into reggae beats to produce a sound that’s easily danceable, but hard to describe. Pitchfork says his new album, “VEGA INTL. Night School,” sounds like “a Carnival Cruise night based around New York’s Danceteria, circa 1982.” Got that? Here’s Alan with a playlist for a late-night dinner party.
Alan Palomo: I’m not much of a cook, but, you know, I have DJed a bit in the past few years, and if I were hosting a dinner party and not providing any kind of actual contributions food-wise, I would try to make myself useful by also providing some ambience. So, let’s check out my dinner party soundtrack.
James Mason – “I Want Your Love”
I’ve always been a fan of Mexican dinner, which starts at 10 p.m. And even more so, I would say that I’m a huge fan of Spanish dinner, which goes for, like, hours. So, we’re going to start at 10 p.m. You’re starving. You arrive at the party. You kind of don’t even want to have alcohol yet because you know that if you have one drink before you have food, you might get prematurely belligerent. And, you know, once the food’s out of the way, we clear the table and make a dance floor. It’s kind of an old tune by James Mason. It’s called “I Want Your Love.”
It’s kind of this, like, undulating, bubbling sort of soup of an old funk tune. It’s pretty long and sprawling. I like things that present a very skeletal idea, and you get the understanding that they’re going to slowly be aggregating things over time.
So, in this case, you know, it’s just kind of a very simple bass line, and over time, you start hearing the chords come in, and then these amazing backing vocals… And it never changes. It’s not like it has a verse or a chorus. Which I think, as a DJ, for me, has always been really interesting to see what people can do with that.
Clausel – “Let Me Love You”
So, our second song is going to be by Clausel. It’s an old single from the early ’80s, I believe. And it’s called “Let Me Love You.”The production is very much ’80s-style, and I think it was kind of right around the time that people were incorporating more synthesizer sounds and drum machine production. But it’s got just kind of like, an old sort of, you know, soul sensibility to it that I really like, and that, you know, is a little bit more upbeat.
As I said, I, myself, am a terrible cook. I burn cereal, and actually [laughs], I would probably greatly disappoint people by just ordering pizza or something. So, assuming this is a potluck, people would be bringing in dishes from their various porcelain containers. You know, maybe even, like, Yucatecan food, which has a lot of really great varieties of classic Mexican dishes. But then again, I don’t want to be too specific. So, you know, as long as it’s wrapped in a corn tortilla, I’ll eat it.
Alexander O’Neal – “Hearsay”
Our third tune for this dinnertime playlist is going to be “Hearsay” by Alexander O’Neal.
You know, I love a lot of Motown-era songwriters and performers who then, later — in the ’70s and ’80s — start exploring themes that go just beyond, like, what Motown was, which was like, very saccharine, very sugary, and I like it, you know, when it kind of starts getting a little bit more complex.
It’s just got like, a really resonating, sort of metallic quality to the whole thing that I think is really just creepy, almost. It’s like a party in a bomb shelter.
Neon Indian – “Dear Skorpio Magazine”
You know, we’re done with the main course. We’re bringing out the dessert. And it slowly transitions from dinner party to party party, and I’ll go ahead and ham-fist one of my own tunes in there called “Dear Skorpio Magazine.”
It’s, essentially, an editorial letter to a now out-of-print porno magazine from Italy in the 1980s, and I just found it really fascinating, like the idea that someone would continue to write, you know, letters about their experiences even though it’s like an institution that no longer exists. It’s almost like a diary to nowhere.