Morgan Geist


f the name Pierre Perpall doesn’t ring a bell, don’t be alarmed. Lacking any recognition outside disco-electro junkie circles, Perpall is a virtual unknown even to the most comprehensive music guides—in essence, Perpall has been all but forgotten. But not for much longer. With his new mix-cd, Environ label owner and Metro Area superstar Morgan Geist has reissued a collection of lost synth-pop, italo-disco and electro funk under the title of Unclassics. Eight months after releasing the last of three eye-opening Unclassic singles, this LP compilation lives up to all the sonic mayhem and also reveals how Geist’s work with Metro Area branches out from these lost classics.

Pierre Perpall (more commonly known as Purple Flash) is a great starting point for this compilation. As a Canadian whose mini Disco hit “We Can Make It” was a couple years (and time zones) too late to be more popular, Unclassics gives the song’s shimmering exterior and the varied percussion new life. The sleek synths of “We Can Make It” straddle the strange and subtle line between too-sweet r’n’b and unnerving melancholy. Perpall’s other contribution to Unclassics is production work on the rare italo-electro cut, Pluton and Humanoids’ “World Invaders.” Although the original 12” can be found on e-bay selling for hundreds of dollars, “World Invaders” is one of the undeniable centerpieces to Unclassics. The song sounds like a fleet of androids racing and screaming toward the future, underpinned by a churning disco beat.

Although these songs are not perfect, there’s a certain sense of playfulness that is all too accurately described by the title “unclassic”. This is a collection of songs that haven’t been held to the scrutiny of canonization and therein sound refreshingly sweet—not hindered down by their own importance. Alexander Robotnick, for instance, was last found on the excellent Italo-Electro-Disco collection I-Robots released earlier this year, but his contribution to Victor’s “Go On Do It” finds a song that is both cheeky with the tale of a guy “looking for a woman with tits and ass” and has an uncanny 80s pop sensibility that probably has Richard X eying from afar, muted electronic cowbells and all. Such flourishes and catchiness litter the mix, from Margueritas’ “Margeherita (Hot Edit)”’s mariachi horn section and cartoonish one-finger synth line to Gaz Nevada’s “Special Agent Man (Female Version)” surreal lyrics and dub feel. In a lot of ways, this sounds like a mix-CD made for the closet-popist—excessive, but nonetheless overwhelmingly charming.

Disco’s untimely demise swept these songs to the wayside, but when brought together as a compilation, Geist reveals how much is left to be uncovered. A summation of a few years of Geist’s obsessive record-digging, Unclassics feels like a beginning for any other producer or DJ to start the process of reclaiming the lost classics of a genre that is nowadays largely ignored.


Reviewed by: Nate De Young

Reviewed on: 2004-11-22

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