Giorgio Moroder is a towering figure in pop music. The Italian producer’s collaborations with disco diva Donna Summer, including “Love To Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love” were hugely influential in introducing electronic music to the masses. In the period from the late 70’s to early 80’s when disco’s DNA was mutating, Moroder (including his soundtrack work) was arguably as important as Germany’s Kraftwerk in wringing soul from the machine, and laying much of the groundwork for the next couple decades’ worth of club, hip-hop and pop music. If disco is in fact dead, it left a beautiful corpse that never stopped dancing.
Italians Do It Better currently has a roster of artists mining Italo-disco. The cream of the label’s crop are Seattle’s Chromatics; having evolved from lo-fi noiseniks to deadpan disco dreamers, they now explore the shivering void that lies between each thump of the kickdrum.
The song at the top of the post is called “Cherry”; its juxtaposition of sweet title/melody and bleak words is more than a bit reminiscent of The Magnetic Fields’ lyrically-similar “Candy”.
Disco was largely about people coming together in communal celebration; Chromatics take disco’s basic structure and tweak it ever-so-slightly to emphasize the spaces that keep us apart. Theirs is a cinematic soundworld of loneliness and longing; of night and neon streets, glimpsed through perpetually rain-streaked windows.
Chromatics – In The City:
Here they are covering Kate Bush; their elegantly-restrained take may actually improve upon the original, its icy minimalism paradoxically making the hurt ache all the more.
Chromatics – Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover):
Bonus Track: Desire – Under Your Spell:
Feel free to hold forth in comments about whether disco’s dead, or will live forever, baby; or anything else that strikes your fancy.