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Songs We Love: T&T Music Factory, 'De Natte Cel'

Seth Troxler's <em>DJ-Kicks</em> compilation comes out Oct. 16.
Courtesy of the artist
Seth Troxler's DJ-Kicks compilation comes out Oct. 16.

Seth Troxler, <em>DJ-Kicks</em> (!K7)
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Seth Troxler, DJ-Kicks (!K7)

"De Natte Cel" is Dutch for "the wet cell," local architects' slang for bathroom. In the track that Seth Troxler and Tom Trago (a.k.a. T&T Sound Factory) recorded exclusively for Troxler's DJ-Kicks mix, the "Natte Cel" in question was an oversized shower room in the basement of Amsterdam's recently closed club Trouw; the lavatory was so special, it used to host its own parties and is now memorialized with a great, spooky house hymn. It makes sense that the subterranean bathroom blues in question would be composed by Troxler, a globe-trotting ambassador of Detroit and trusted heir of black American house and techno authenticity; his complicated reputation conflates his roles as underground dance music's willful jester and supremely skilled producer/DJ. He's at once appropriately jokey and deceptively serious, and so is the song.

Much like the club it commemorates, "De Natte Cel" is no one's idea of cookie-cutter club music. Instead, it's more a secret set of sounds, a late-night/early-morning rhythmic libation with a crowded, expertly experimental pulse. Different keyboards emerge as layered blankets of melody — a mournful, drifting organ here, some 8-bit video-game sounds there — with only a five-note piano phrase and a funky arpeggiated bass synth as near-constants over its 10 minutes. The kick drum that should be driving listeners to the dance floor also appears only occasionally, with fly-by hand-claps, ghostly percussion and an occasional Jamaican skank forming the specter of a groove. The dryly spoken vocals pay tribute to a personification of Trouw and its hidden "wet cell." "You were ... my everything," Trago's voice intones, a poetic attempt at depth that, knowing the subject, is funny and schlocky. Of course, the humor doesn't make the statement any less true.

Seth Troxler's DJ-Kicks comes out Oct. 16 on !K7.

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