November 17, 2006

Tantra - The Double LP

A release scooping up most, but not all, of the Italo group Tantra’s output, The Double LP revolves around two side-length epics—the A-side “Hills of Katmandu,” and the D-side “Wishbone.” I first heard the former (in truncated form) on the Idjut Boys classic Saturday Night Live, Vol. 2 mix, and if it blew me away then, it’s even more potent in its full 16-minute-plus glory. Exotica and “orientalist” touches were always a feature of Italo, and “Hills of Katmandu” deftly weaves such fare into a monster of rumbling percussion, weaving analogs, and swaying female vocals. The sweet little nugget of disco fantasia that interrupts at the 6:30 mark is both unexpected and cheesily delightful. “Wishbone,” on the other hand, is funkier and more mesmerizing—the odd female vocals are paired with echoed tribal percussion to a mystical and almost eerie effect, with a sitar-like lead making the odd appearance. It’s the mirror of “Katmandu,” but an unsettlingly purist one—making absolutely no concessions towards any but the most tripped-out of dancefloors. If I could find the crowd that would happily vibe along with me to all of its 15 glorious minutes I would never bloody leave.

Normally this would constitute a full and rewarding album, but in between these two leviathans is sandwiched another two full sides of goodness that interweaves primal and futurist elements. The B-side unveils two strong Eurodisco stompers: “Get Ready to Go,” which could’ve soundtracked any number of early 80’s prime-time buddy-cop TV shows, and “Top Shot,” a track that pushes all the gay disco buttons it can find and then digs around for some more. The C-side, on the other hand, starts with “Su-ku-leu,” a traditional African-flavored number that still kicks out on its disco heels, combining the chants and ethnic percussives with synth pops and sweeps, which blends right into “Mother Africa,” a T-Connection-esque stomper with a delicious percussion break that sets the stage for the most stereotypically “disco” of their tracks, “Hallelujah.” Side closer “Get Happy” points an arrow towards boogie, and could be a Chic b-side, with its warm syn-strings and chimes. It’s the very spirit of disco’s unabashed joyfulness, and a fine place to rest.

The Double LP is that great disco rarity—not just a classic album, but a classic double, and as such it demands a proper remix and CD release. Until then… keep those needles fresh!

Importe/12 / MP-310
[Mallory O’Donnell]


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