August 2, 2007

Jupiter Black feat. Fred Ventura - Hold Me

200712"Italo

Kudos to the people over at Clone and Viewlexx for bringing ’80s Italo vocalist Fred Ventura out of retirement. He re-appeared last year on a new version of Alden Tyrell’s “Love Explosion”, and then recorded a bunch of his old hits live with Tyrell and I-F for a limited edition 12″ on Viewlexx. Like those releases, “Hold Me”, his latest single with Jupiter Black, is not going to raise any eyebrows outside the italo community, but it’s a quality synth-pop number, not too different from your average mid-to-late ’80s italo record. Needless to say, if you found stuff like Ryan Paris, P. Lion, Ken Laszlo, and Eddy Huntington to be pure parmesan, you probably won’t be into this. And even if there’s an instrumental version included, it’s not really tracky enough to have the kind of hipster cache DJs want from their italo these days. Still, this is an authentic and enjoyable sounding throwback, hopefully bound for a mixtape somewhere.

Clone / CLONE# 49
[Listen]
[Michael F. Gill]


June 19, 2007

Dopplereffekt / Los Angeles TF / Mike Dunn - Gesamtkunstwerk / Magical Body / So Let It Be House

20071990s1980s12"CD/AlbumChicagoElectroItalo

Three more italo, electro, and house nuggets from Clone’s reliable Classic Cuts imprint, and the hits just keep on coming. First up is Dopplereffekt, the well-known Detroit electro collective featuring Gerald Donald of Drexciya. Gesamtkunstwerk is a reissue of a compilation that Gigolo put out in 1999, made up of all the vinyl sides from the group’s own Dataphysix Engineering label. It’s got all the hallmarks you’d expect to find on an electro record (sci-fi/technology themes, bleakly monophonic synths, precise/robotic beats) but with a consistency and a pop sensibility that the genre often lacks. The sleazy female vocals deadpanning on tracks like “Pornovision” and “Pornoactress” also predict what Adult’s Nicola Kuperus (and in turn, many electroclashers) would be doing years down the road. Great stuff.

Second up is a reissue of Los Angeles TF’s electro-italo smash “Magical Body” from 1983, sounding amazingly pristine here in a new remaster by Alden Tyrell. I wasn’t originally sold on the vocal version, where singer Taffy (of “I Love My Radio” fame) seems to over-emphasize the end of each phrase (”Magical! Magical! Is your bod-EE!”), but the tracky instrumental on the B provides immediate gratification, and shows why so many nu-italo producers were inspired to do what they do.

For the third helping, we get another EP of vintage acid house from Mike Dunn. Clone boss Serge was so scared to damage his vinyl copy of Dunn’s “So Let It Be House” he’s gone out and secured this reissue of it, along with two superior b-sides. While the press releases gushes about the title cut’s rareness, and frames 1980s Chicago as this exotic, magical place, to these ears it’s an overly sparse acid track with another “Birth of House Music” speech. It may be the weakest of this trio of releases, but I sort of get the cross-continental appeal. I’m never going to be a intimidating black man from the streets either.

Clone Classic Cuts / C#CC 004/005/006
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Michael F. Gill]


January 26, 2007

Beatzcast #16: Michael F. Gill

Mixes2007Italo

The Dancing Therapy mix started off as a sort of self-help mixtape for myself, but later evolved into a generally uplifting set of vocal oriented italo/synth-pop hits….

01: International Music System (I.M.S.) - Dancing Therapy - Bellaphon, 1984
No better way to start off than with this, the impetus for starting this mix. The seemingly naive lyrics about using music to escape from your troubles take more of a poignant turn here. “Fusion to the beat really clears my mind” sums up a great amount of dance music’s appeal in just one line.

02: The Creatures - Believe In Yourself (Special Remix) - Full Time, 1983
Not to be confused with the Siouxsie Sioux side-group, The Creatures’ biggest hit is a bouncy, heavy-synth number with endearing dorky vocals extolling self-esteem with perhaps too much zeal (the opening line being “Boy, don’t be so shy!”).

03: Taffy - I Love My Radio (European Mix) - Emergency, 1986
Probably my favorite latter-day Italo track, it hits many of the overblown hallmarks of the mid ’80s (faceless vocals, huge synth-drums, chipper keyboards) while refusing to remain grounded to the template. Plus as a night owl myself, I can relate to the rather silly lyrics proclaiming love to a midnight radio DJ.

04: Brand Image - Are You Loving? - Il Discotto Productions, 1983
Il Discotto Productions were a high profile Italo label that briefly catered to the sci-fi/robotic side of the genre before moving more towards the candy-sweet pop end by the mid ’80s. One of their big releases was “Are You Loving?” by the little-known Brand Image, which continues this mix’s focus on defiant/strong vocals and aggressive keyboards.

05: Alden Tyrell feat. Fred Ventura - Love Explosion 05 - Clone, 2006
“Love Explosion” was a cult hit for Alden Tyrell in the neo-italo/electro circuit ever since its release way back in 1999. It gained its popularity as an instrumental, so when Alden finally released his debut album Times Like These last year, he re-recorded it as a vocal version with well-known italo vocalist Fred Ventura. Tyrell is one of the very few neo-italo composers whose productions could nearly pass as vintage, and the fact that the vocal version is nowhere as sleek, icy, and chic as the instrumental is testament to this.

06: Fokewulf 190 - Body Heat - Market Records, 1984
“Hey! You! Take a look at me! Look me in the eyes, there is something new.” The second cut in this little trilogy of Fred Ventura tracks finds the dear Italian vocalist in a near desperate wail. While most lyrical subjects in Italo are lightweight and superficial (following in the Eurodisco tradition), the tortured passion of Ventura is very much an anomaly. I have no idea how well-known “Body Heat” (or as Ventura says, “Badi hit”) was before it ended up on one of the C-B-S Top 100 lists, but it surely is one of the most angsty and lyrically sound italo tracks I know.

07: Flexx - Love Theme From Flexxy-Ball - Hole, 1983
“Love theme” is so close to the sound of “Body Heat” that it begs to be mixed in as the final Ventura vocal track in the trilogy. It’s a bit more on the uplifting side, and is probably responsible for naming the disco-friendly mail-order site Flexx.

08: Gary Low - I Want You - CAT Record, 1983
“I Want You” was a big hit among gay clubgoers in the ’80s, and was recently heavily sampled by Miss Kitten and the Hacker for their Mental Groove single “The Beach.” It’s definitely got a summertime feel, and even if the cheeseball vocals take a while to warm up too, it remains a perennial club favorite.

09: Pineapples - Come On Closer (Extended Club Mix) - Danse, 1983
What can I say about this recently reissued track, probably one of my favorite singles of all-time, and one of the most beloved, uplifting italo tracks around? Its likely that the bizarre cocktail lounge croon of Douglas Coop elevates it from perky synthpop to a feel-good anthem, but explaining the rest of its magic is impossible: you just have to hear it for yourself.

10: Trilogy - Not Love - Il Discotto Productions, 1982
Another Il Discotto Production, and another favorite of mine that seems to be overlooked. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the vocal version of “Not Love” used over the instrumental. It’s a shame, because the vocal really buys into the melodrama of the arrangement, and nearly seems confrontational.

11: Ottawan - D.I.S.C.O. (Instrumental) - Carrere, 1979
Ok, OK, the original is a total novelty (and even uses the same bassline of their previous hit, “Hands Up”) but I was surprised how much calmer the instrumental version is after hearing it. It also provides a nice vocal break until the next track…

12: Jimmy Ross - Fall Into A Trance (Remix) - Quality/RFC Records, 1982
…where the vocals are back to being zealous again. Jimmy Ross was one of the few italo vocalists who put more of an American soul influence in his music, so it sort of helps that his English is so slurred and heavy handed: it often makes him sound out of breath with emotion. “Fall Into a Trance” was his second biggest hit next to the boogie disco of “First True Love Affair,” which was later remixed by Larry Levan. There’s a compilation CD on Unidisc of Ross’ entire work that is recommended if you want to hear more.

13: Alexander Robotnick - Intro for Live Performance - Creme Organization, 2005
Mr. Robotnick has been going through a revival lately, with two rarities compilations coming out in the past few years. “Intro for Live Performance” is from the second volume, put out last year by Creme, and while it may seem odd for someone to walk onstage to anything this noir-ish, it’s probably one of the most minimal tracks in his oeuvre.

14: Ministry - I Wanted To Tell Her - Arista, 1983
Ministry might be a surprising name here, but their first album “With Sympathy” was a dead ringer for a lot of the Human League-esque new wave going on at the time. “I Wanted to Tell Her” combines this upbeat synth approach with a bit of the funk A Certain Ratio was doing, and has a great vocal to boot

15: Memory Control One (MC1) - Basic - Crash, 1984
This 1984 synth-pop single by the newly-feted Beppe Loda and Francesco Boscolo always sounds so triumphant to me, like it should soundtrack an athlete’s victory lap or the end of a sports movie. Hence, I’m placing it here as something of a coda to the mix, a sort of stand-alone resolution to the theoretical therapy of all the previous tracks.


December 22, 2006

2006 Year In Review: Individual Writer Lists

As a companion piece to our 2006 year in review, here are the individual lists/charts from each of our contributors. Happy reading…

(more…)


December 8, 2006

Various Artists / Various Artists - Vintage Future [Mixed by Serge] / ReCloned

2006CD/AlbumElectroItalo

Two handy state-of-the-union addresses from the Clone family, Vintage Future is a mix of recent releases and reissues, while ReCloned offers the best remixes from the label. Serge does a nice job of showing how easily the old (Marshall Jefferson, Mike Dunn, Egyptian Lover) mixes with the new (Alden Tyrell, Lindstrom, Dexter), blurring the lines of electro-funk, italo, and acid house with a fast-paced mix. The best rediscovery is the recently reissued “Every Sunday” by Crazy Gang, an electro-vocoder romp with lyrics about overbearing parents that make their child go to church every Sunday. ReCloned is unmixed, but shares the same family of artists and range of sound. Standouts include recent releases like Charles Webster’s spacey deep house version of Delgui�s “Highlights,” and Elitechnique’s mix of Alden Tyrell�s “La Voix,” as well as established classics like the Carl Craig remix of “Hand to Phone” and Tiefschwarz’s remix of Unit 4’s “Body Dub.” You might have to deal with a lot of “I Feel Love” style arrangements, but both mixes are great palette cleansers in a market currently cluttered with minimal and electro-house mixes.

Clone / Clone# cd8 / Clone# cd9
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Michael F Gill]


September 8, 2006

Charts: September 8 2006

Todd Hutlock
Shinedoe - Seek And You Will Find [100% Pure]
Ican - A Quien [Planet E]
Audion - Mouth to Mouth [Spectral Sound]
Daniel Stefanik - Move Me (Guido Schneider�s Dark Side of the Moon Mix) [Moon Harbour]
Musical Science - Musical Science (Squelch Mix) [Sabres of Paradise]
Two Lone Swordsmen - Felt Under Pressure [Firewire]
Galaxy 2 Galaxy - Afros, Arps, and Minimoogs [Underground Resistance]
Spektrum - May Day (DJ T. Remix) [Spektrum]
Pier Bucci - Junk [Cocoon]
Dominik Eulberg - Der Buchdrucker [Traum Schallplatten]

Mallory O�Donnelll
Daso - Sam N Max [Conaisseur]
Booka Shade - In White Rooms (Mexico Mix) [Get Physical]
Kerrier District - Sho U Rite [Rephlex]
Kelis - Bossy (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix) [Virgin]
Arthur Russell - Springfield (DFA Remix) [Audika]
Justin Timberlake - Future Sex / Love Sounds [Jive]
Beyonce - Get Me Bodied (Remix) [Columbia]

Michael F. Gill
Lee Douglas � Same Changes [Rong]
Lindsay J & Sneak Thief � Open The Door (Imatran Voima Remix) [Mighty Robot]
Spice Girls � Holler (Masters At Work Remixes) [Virgin]
P�taah � Staring At The Sun (Atjazz Remix) [Ubiquity]
Demon vs Heartbreaker - You are My High [20000st]
Pete Shelley � Witness The Change (Dub) [Arista]
P. Lightfoot � The Drive [Recycled Records]
Patti Jo � Make me Believe In You [Scepter / Souljazz]
Alden Tyrell feat. Fred Ventura � Love Explosion �05 [Clone]
Carlton & The Shoes � Love Me Forever [Trojan]


June 2, 2006

Charts: June 2 2006

Mallory O’Donnell
Eve Massacre - When Silhouettes Cry
Cassie - Just Friends
Christopher & Raphael Just - Popper ft. Fox N’ Wolf
The Flirts - Passion
Gabriel Ananda - Ihre Personliche Glucksmelodie (Freeform Five Remix)
Adam Sky - Ape-X
Prince - Cindy C (Jaksoul’s Basilika Edit)
Momus - Lord of the Dance
Rekid - Retroactive

Todd Hutlock
Tres Demented - Shez Satan
Troy Pierce - 25 Bitches (Matt John�s 25 Pitches Remix)
James Cotton - Oochie Coo
Kid 606 - Pretty Girls Make Raves EP
DJ 3000 - Ancestors (Fabrice Lig Remix)
Audio Werner - Trust
Loco Dice - Menina Brasileira
Mr. Motech - Merchants of Identity
DJ Rolando - Jaguar (Mayday Dub)
Osborne - Bout Ready to Jak (Shake�s Mix)

Cameron Octigan
Gabriel Ananda & Cio D’or - Lauschgoldengel
Can - I’m So Green
Cluster & Brian Eno - Hollywood
Luomo - The Present Lover
Simian Mobile Disco - Hustler
Skyy - Let’s Turn it Out
John Tejada - The End of it All
Satoshi Tomiie - Glow (Spirit Catcher Remix)
Alden Tyrell - Knockers
Zongamin � Spiral

Nate De Young
Auto Repeat - Auto Disco (Soundhack remix)
Giorgio Gigli - Geometrik Forms EP
Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Revelee (Carl Craig Remix)
Audio Werner - Trust
Unai - A Love Moderne
Skull Disco - Shackleton
Tolga Fidan - Now I’m Weak
Anja Schneider - Lily of the Valley

Michael F. Gill
J.M. Silk � All in Vain
Band of South � Sensitive
Ron Trent � Altered States
Karen Young � Deetour
SCSI-9 � On the Edge
Remute & Riley Reinhold � Polyester
Gary Low � I Want You
Swingle Sisters � Aria
Mark Conner - I Got Eyes
Franz Ferdinand � I�m Your Villain (Lindstrom Extended Mix)


May 5, 2006

Alden Tyrell - Times Like These (1999-2006)

2006CD/AlbumElectroItalo

As one of the first producers to return to the sounds that made up early Italo-disco Alden Tyrell was one of the few modern artists to feature on I-F�s influential Mixed Up in the Hague, the mix which sent diggers to the crates to scrabble for previously dismissed early-80s electronic disco and producers to their equipment to try to recreate it. Times Like These gathers on CD some of the best of his past work and a few new tracks. Tyrell�s post�house and techno take on Italo is trackier, more explicitly electro dance-floor functional than the trashy, wannabe commercial originals but still works best when it retains at least vestigial attachment to song form. On �Love Explosion 05�, a vocal rework of a track from �99, old school Italoid Fred Ventura emotes soft-rock sweet nothings over filtered white-noise snares and hi-hats. It sounds as cheap as the sentiment. The other vocal guest, Nancy Fortune, brings the over-enunciated second language English to the motorik space dust of �La Voix.� �Knockers� compares and contrasts the ever-present synth arpeggios with cyclic tom tom rolls and fills. I ad-lib lyrics about being a sultry time-travelling space woman over the Liaisons Dangereuses percussion of �Phaze Me� but that�s only in the privacy of my own room. You might just want to dance instead; I strongly recommend it.

Clone / C#cd7
[Listen]
[Patrick McNally]