“Before even considering his music, you gotta love Karl Blau. The guy practically tells the online music scene to fuck itself with Kelp Monthly, a service in which every 30 days, via snail mail, subscribers receive another eclectic nugget of Blau’s creativity, ranging from collaborations with fellow D+ (and ex-Beat Happening) members Bret Lunsford and Phil Elvrum to 12″ field recordings of crickets chirping. Give one of his releases a spin, and you’ll appreciate more than just his grass-roots ethos. Picking up where his previous full-length Beneath Waves left off, Dance Positive features Blau putting his unique spin on 10 D+ songs penned by Lunsford, running them through a gauntlet of stylistic and experimental mettle.
While here Blau alludes to dance music both in the album’s title and its heightened sense of rhythm, these Lunsford ditties carry too much of Blau’s lo-fi, Pacific Northwest musk to constitute a full-blown reinvention–especially for a guy so typically all over the map like Blau. While his vocals still possess that signature sylvan stoicism, Blau isn’t afraid to put down the granola and venture onto the dance floor. “Put Me Back” glides over a pulsating synth line that overpowers its hissy accompaniment, while “What’s Not To Fall in Love With” backs up its cocksure title with spastic drum machine blips and a suave delivery.
The newfound swing in Blau’s step espouses him with similarly glitchy, yet catchy, genre-hoppers like Caribou or Four Tet, as opposed to the poor man’s Odelay some of his prior records settled for. “The Business” renders any presumable music industry commentary moot as silky power chords and tinny harmonics drown out Blau’s near-whisper. Although heady psyche sprinkles every track here to some extent, “Heatherwood” blows the lid off, jamming on a space-age Hawkwind bassline and eerie horn parts.
However, as the voracious music epicurean he is, Blau tends to snack so quickly through genres that the listener sometimes can’t appreciate the flavor. Dance Positive lacks a stud track, just as Blau’s discography lacks a landmark album conveniently encapsulating his canon, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Basically, the guy writes songs from the brain, not the gut, and while nothing here elicits a tear or two-step, Dance Positive is a nearly unlimited supply of cerebral candy you never grow sick on.” – Pitchfork (2007)