Dance music may still pack out clubs, but the wider influence it wielded has all but evaporated; witness the lengthening silence from such former chart staples as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. Apologists say that dance music isn't really album-fodder anyway, but even in single form, it's trounced these days by Britpop, nu-pop, hip-hop, indie-pop, Keaneplay and R&B. The appeal of cheering on a club DJ simply doesn't transfer that well to the home environment, it seems.
This shouldn't be cause for too much gloom. Quite the opposite, in fact, as dance music's great cultural breakthrough - the demystification of the recording process - means that thousands can now make music in their own bedrooms, free to explore outside the strict parameters of club culture.
The touchstones for this new form of computer-groove music are not so much Detroit techno icons such as Derrick May and Juan Atkins, but Kraut-rockers like Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, early synth-rock pioneers such as Silver Apples and Suicide, and minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley. James Murphy, who to all intents and purposes is LCD Soundsystem, admitted as much on his single "Losing My Edge", name-checking everyone from Can to Captain Beefheart, going on to notable success with his 2005 debut album. Now Murphy returns with Sound of Silver, a quantum leap beyond LCD's debut.
Apart from the closing piano ballad "New York I Love You", the album's nine tracks are methodically built, sometimes from the simplest elements - the single-note bassline of "Time To Get Away", the lone repeated chord of "Get Innocuous", the re-synching pianos of " All My Friends" - laid over the interlocking rhythms. The tone is so discreetly minimal that it's a shock to reach the end of a track and realise that itchy rhythm guitar is now driving the groove, or that a piercing, atonal violin has muscled its way in somewhere.
Murphy hasn't yet settled on a vocal style of his own, with individual tracks sounding as though haunted by the spirits of Bowie or Byrne. But his songwriting displays an admirably broad range of subjects: the dubious desire to re-experience teenage emotions; the deceit of "politricks" ; the numbing impact of bereavement; and, in "North American Scum", the contrast between American and European attitudes. It makes for a diversely entertaining hour or so, but without that nagging suspicion that you ought to be on a dancefloor. It's possible to discern in Sound of Silver the sound of the future crystallising out of the past.
Above all, I love the tracks 'Us v Them', 'Time To Get Away 'and 'North American Scum' .