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People like italo-disco. It’s a genre that’s attracted a lot more interest of late, partly due to the critical success of US label Italians Do It Better (home to Chromatics, Farah and Glass Candy) although for me they took the visual aesthetic and left behind the élan and bare-faced extravagance, filling the resulting hole with a dour detachment. Not that they didn’t put out any good records, it’s just that for me, it didn’t really constitute what they appeared to be styling themselves as. Or I just wasn’t into it. Probably both.

In the late 70s/early-to-mid 80s, disco producers started to incorporate more synthesized, electronic elements to their music. This may have been due to the falling price of equipment, although the fetishising of such gear due to a certain ‘futuristic’ quality was a strong factor – one cannot ignore the power of new technology to inspire art and music. Due to this it tends to have a certain sci-fi, galactic feel which, when combined with an ebullient pop nous, dancefloor NRG and the warm fuzz of analogue recording equipment, can produce MAGIC. When it does it combines elation, melancholy, joy, nostalgia, goosebumps and butterflies. For me, anyway.

As with any genre so extensive and varied in quality (genius all the way to dross) it’s best to start with the peaks, one of them being italian supergroup Kano (no, not Kano. Or Kano for that matter). It was their melding of electro, funk and 70s disco that shaped their sound and made them one of the pioneers of the period. Their strong electro element especially led to influence in the b-boy/early hip-hop scene.

Essentially an instrumental act, the band themselves seem happy to take a visual back seat and let a rotating array of vocalists provide their face. They released three albums, Kano (1980), New York Cake (1981) and Another Life (1983). These are the best moments:

From Kano, sampled by Tag Team on ‘Whoomp (There it Is)’

Also from Kano, probably their most famous track with some magnificent Synthwork. I sure wish ‘Popcorn’ was still on TV:

From New York Cake, a personal favourite:

The title track from Another Life. One of their most successful tracks. What a video – like some crazy, sexy dream:

There’s a good little italo history here, read it.

More disco soon folks, trendy or not x

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Italo Heaven « Expendable Youth on 07 May 2009 at 8:41 pm

    […] Posted in Dancefloor, Dreams Inspired by Serge’s top 20, thought I’d share with you all a handful of my personal favourite Italo-Disco cuts (erring toward the ones that are on Youtube), some of which he also mentions. I’m going to leave out Kano as their talent and importance warranted a post to themselves. […]

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