Erasure’s Violet Flame

18 09 2014

Erasure - Violet Flame (Photo Shoot)K, synthpop whores! It’s Erasure time again. For a lot of people, the release of a new album by a veteran band means, ‘Oh, fuck! All three remaining members of the Beatles are getting back together again to record…a re-recording of a 1994 compilation of…their number-one hits from, um, the 1960s, which is the only decade they made music!’ So, basically, nothing new.

Erasure are not like that. They consistently release a new album once every two to three years, often with delicious re-releases interspersed with new, original material, and re-inventing their style of synthpop with the latest producers. Most bands that originated in the ’80s can’t boast that, even if some rapper is using a synthesiser riff from their main hit in their latest song.

Erasure’s new album is a masterwork of electronic dance pop. And I say this as a hardcore fan who has criticised the band in the past for producing work which could be judged as marginal because it relied too much on trends in acoustic folk rock (which I deplore). This is entirely different:

My least-favourite album (Loveboat) was highly synthesised, well-written, well-thought-out, and expertly executed. So I am speaking in relative terms.

The band’s two previous albums, Light At The End Of The World and Tomorrow’s World (minus the Christmas album released last year) were very good and had very coherent, well-written dance anthems, but if we are talking about coherent, well-written dance anthems, The Violet Flame blows them out of the water. It is absolutely majestic in its scope. The lead singer, Andy Bell, boasts an incredibly fluid and nimble voice, synthesiser wizard Vince Clarke creates the most beautifully subtle, lush synthesiser arrangements, Andy Bell Erasureand producer Richard X polishes it off with his own HI-NRG take. The result is the perfect melodic dance-pop album.

Let’s talk about songs. ‘Under The Waves’ immediately stands out as an infectious bubblegum tune. It is the catchiest song I have heard in years. ‘Oh-oooh-oh-oooh-oh’, goes the chorus, on and on, against a thick, up-and-down italo-disco bassline. Also notable is the tune ‘Sacred’, which celebrates the extent to which love will realise itself. The most infectious and important of these transcendent dance songs, though, is the sinister and roiling ‘Paradise’. It is all about throwing away everything anybody thought about you and following your passion. It is about being true to yourself. And it’s a dance anthem! To me, this is perfection.

The Violet Flame is perhaps the best dance album I have ever heard. I hate most club mixes—they sound boring and monotonous to me. This album offers dance music that satisfies several important criteria: lyricism, melody, danceability, content. It is lyrical, melodic, danceable, and offers remotely intelligible insight into modern-day relationships and social issues. Erasure have outdone themselves with this album.

 

 

 

 

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OMD (Late to the Game, as Usual)

10 10 2013

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The DarkYes, I already know that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) are the seminal synthpop band of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The question is: how the fuck did I miss the fact that they reformed in 2005 and released albums in 2010 and 2013? I attribute it to marketing. Marketing, commerce, pop culture trends, avarice, blah blah blah.

Happily, OMD entertained my tardiness by travelling back in time to the very distant past–2010–to release their first album in something like fifteen years–History of Modern. And it is amazing. And then they released another album a couple years later in 2013–English Electric, which is equally amazing.

Hold my breasts, Jesus. Is this for real?

Yes. It is, and OMD’s new material gives veteran synthpop duo Erasure a run for their money–and I am a hardcore Erasure fan.

Consider the extended version of ‘History of Modern (Part I)’:

But it doesn’t end there. OMD’s synthpop genius carries on to their song ‘Sister Marie Says’:

Perhaps their most poignantly beautiful song since their reunion is ‘Stay With Me’, from their 2013 album English Electronic:

Actually, come to think of it, I think ‘Helen of Troy’, from the same album, might be even more stunning:

This last track reminds me of a lot of material being produced by newer bands like College, FM Attack, and Parallels. Just look up those last three bands to see what I mean.

Honestly, I am impressed by OMD. They have made an amazing comeback. They didn’t try to kowtow to current electronic dance trends–otherwise they would have ended up sounding like Lady Gaga–rather, they wrote intelligent material which incorporates modern technology to create delicious, melodic pop anthems. That is what I love about synthpop bands. They evolve.





Erasure Announce Release of New Christmas Album, “Snow Globe”

13 09 2013

Erasure - Snow Globe“Erasure are releasing a Christmas album in November! It’s called–oh, fuck. You’re Muslim.”

That is exactly how I introduced the new Erasure album to my Muslim friend, who told me he loves Christmas music.

Erasure are releasing their first-ever full-length Christmas album on 11 November, and it consists of both classic Christmas songs and original material. This is perfect. I love Christmas albums that combine classics with original works.

The first single off the album, according to the Erasure Information Service, is a rendition of Gaudete, a Latin Christmas carol believed to have been composed some time during the sixteenth century, but which probably existed as a hymn in the late Medieval period. It sounds deliciously haunting, right? It is a bold idea for a single, too.

Veteran folk band Steeleye Span have already released a stunningly beautiful version of this old carol, and quite frankly I believe it belongs in everyone’s Christmas playlist.

Isn’t it hauntingly gorgeous? I hope Erasure improve upon it. With Vince’s slick, synthesised production and Andy’s peregrine-like vocals, I doubt they will fail to please. Vince and Andy have a strangely, chillingly cool understanding of pop music which I adore.

I know it is barely the beginning of Autumn, but I love the Autumn and Winter seasons. Fleeces, pumpkins, trees decorated in candy and glass baubles, and new tunes to listen to. So this new album by Erasure is absolutely perfect.





Visage Release a New Album!

15 05 2013

Visage - 2013 PhotoshootWatch out, Pet Shop Boys! Beat it, Depeche Mode! You have competition, Erasure! New Order, make another album goddamnit! Visage have regrouped and they are back in style with a new, fierce electronic dance album.

Much of what we love and remember about the ’80s was pioneered by a small group of kids who frequented a nightclub in London in the late ’70s and early ’80s called The Blitz. Among the patrons were Marc Almond of Soft Cell (“Tainted Love”), songwriter and DJ Princess Julia, and Boy George, who served as cloakroom attendant. But a very special patron of the club was Steve Strange, the notoriously androgynous genderfuck artist who hosted club nights at The Steve Strange and Princess JuliaBlitz and helped form Visage in 1978 along with Rusty Egan and Midge Ure. The band are best known for their hauntingly elegant synthpop anthems “Fade to Grey“, “The Anvil“, and  “Damned Don’t Cry“. (The gorgeous and talented Princess Julia also appeared in the video for “Fade to Grey”, while the enticing LA Richards appeared in the video for “The Anvil”.)

After 29 years, Visage have produced a new, original electronic dance album with Steve Strange serving seductive vocals alongside bassist Steve Barnacle, former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon, and newcomer Lauren Duvall on vocals. (She matches Steve Strange in her vocal talent and reminds me of Claudia Brücken.) Some of the songs are rough dance-rock floor-stoppers, and others, sublime, emotional synthpop anthems. The result is modern, fun, crazy glamour–sound meets style and a masterpiece results. The album sounds surprisingly contemporary and fits in well with the current trend of nu disco and independent electronic music.

Shameless Fashion” is the first single from the new album. It reeks of unabashed playfulness and an unpretentious glorification of beauty, which I adore. “Never Enough” is a throbbing dance anthem which confronts the complicated nature of sexual desire and satisfaction. In “I Am Watching“, Steve tries to warn a potential victim of stalking by stalking the stalker. By far, the most glorious song on the album is “She’s Electric (Coming Around)“. The eerie guitars, icy synthesisers, and chugging bassline are accompanied by hauntingly poignant vocals which ask us, Who is she? Where is she coming from? What should we do? It is perhaps the most beautiful, mysterious, and challenging track from the new album.

It is strange that a band which pioneered the chic sound of the ’80s should take such a long sabbatical only to produce one of the most modern-sounding electronic dance albums of 2013. The album sounds like something Pitchfork would plug as indie electronica nowadays. It just goes to show that age doesn’t matter: do what your heart desires, and beauty will result. Visage have achieved this, even with their new alignment of band members.





Top 15 Hot Cartoon Sluts of the ’80s!

1 11 2011

I’ve finally re-discovered this blog post. It’s so amazingly gay and obscure that it made me pregnant. With twins. It totally reminds me of growing up as a child in the ’80s. I remember most of these characters, so it all rings so true. They’re sluts! And proud of it! So they should be. They’re fucking awesome. It’s a rather fortuitous conclusion: the toy and cartoon franchises of the ’80s had a preponderance of male characters, and to create a gender balance they had to include token females here and there, but the obvious implication was, who are those chicks gonna bang? Oh, shit! Everybody else.

Anyway, the post was originally written by somebody called Lahoma00, on the blog DListed, but I was so incensed at what I saw as a glaring omission of intolerable magnitude that I had to modify the post slightly and add a new winner in the #1 position, so actually this list ended up being the top 16 hot cartoon sluts of the ’80s. So, yeah, the new winner was chosen by me and written about by me (as well as the first sentence in the new #2). Oh, and anything in brackets was added by me, too, and I took the liberty of correcting punctuation where necessary. Appréciez, bitches!

#16 Madame Razz (She-Ra: Princess of Power)

Madame Razz always reminded me of Valerie Harper or Madge, the Palmolive lady who told you how well Palmolive cleaned your dishes AND your hands. Razz was that stupid bitch who was always fucking up her spells and talked like an old lady from New York. Here Madame Razz is seen causing disaster, as well as with her lovable companion Broom, who was a homosexual. Madame Razz was a fag-hag!

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#15 Lady Jaye (GI Joe: A Real American Hero)

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Lady Jaye was fucking hot! This bitch could kick your ass with her fists, a gun, or her javelin. In one episode she beat somebody with a handbag! My favorite episode was where she and the Baroness [who competes for the #1 position but got left out because I’m too lazy to add her] got kidnapped; they beat a bunch of robots while Lady Jaye was wearing business casual and Baroness was in a bikini!

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Here is Lady Jaye with her boyfriend Flint, but it was all a cover because we know she was a dyke. That’s why she was little boys’ favourite, because she was basically a guy herself! She wanted to fuck Cover Girl!

#14 Woolma Lamb (The Get Along Gang)

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Woolma was the snotty bitch of this group, always acting prissy and coming her hair. Once I was in a green room of a talk show and Joan Collins was there, primping and looking in the mirror. She reminded me of this bitch.

#13 Melodia (Silverhawks)

Melodia was one in a long string of MTV-inspired cartoon characters. All Melodia did was shriek a lot and play really shitty guitar in outer space. But her hair was hot! Glynne Headley would play her in the movie.

#12 LaLa Orange (Rainbow Brite)

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Look at this slut! She thought she was a fucking French lady with her beret but she’s nothing but a Parisian whore! She was always winking and trying to suck Red Butler’s dick!

#11 Carla (Kidd Video)

Kidd Video was seriously one of the hottest cartoons around: Four kids (including Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch) get sucked into a cartoon where they play rock n’ roll and run away from Master Blaster and his psycho cats! Carla was the Apollonia/Sheena Easton/Vanity wannabe. She was so hot because she said was from East L.A. and always wore her t-shirt with the shoulder exposed. I think she was a shitty singer!

#10 Jacqueline Stallone

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She wasn’t in a cartoon, but look at this bitch! She’s cazy!

#9 Pizzaz (Jem)

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How can this slut not be on it? Pizzaz was always trying to fuck with Jem’s career, causing destruction and chaos wherever she went. She was especially hot because her birth name was Phyllis Gabor. I loved when this bitch would try to steal Jem’s boyfriend, Eric. [Or was it Rio?] She thought she was so fucking sexy, but she looks like an alligator on crack!

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#8 Nanny (Muppet Babies)

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Nanny had the hottest legs in show business! You never saw this slut, but you know that she resembled Polly Holliday or Barbara Billingsley. [Plus, she was constantly competing with Miss Piggy, or “Piggy”, on this slutty cartoon show.]

#7 Brittany (Alvin and the Chipmunks)

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Brittany was hot because she wore Danskins and acted like a bitch all the time! What few of you sluts realize is that Brittany is single handedly responsible for the creation of Britney Spears! Just look at how Brit Brit was influenced by her.

The only difference was, Brittany was never pregnant white trash!

#6 Crasher (Challenge of the GoBots)

For so many years I thought Crasher was a gay guy. Then I realized he was a she! But it’s a thin line anyway, isn’t it bitches? Anyway, Crasher sort of looks like Pete Burns and has a British accent. She always would laugh hysterically after stepping on people and causing destruction, like she was having an orgasm. She was the first 80s cartoon character into S&M!

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#5 Cheetara (Thundercats)

Aside from beating people’s asses with her hot staff, Cheetara was a fucking porn star! Look at this picture from the first episode!

You can see her tits! I remember this freaked me out as a kid. It was the same sort of fascination and feeling when you’re doing something you are not supposed to, like looking at a copy of your brother’s (or mother’s) issue of Hustler. I think her tits freaked so many kids out that they became fags! Holy shit, the right wing needs to start blaming Cheetara for gay marriage!

#4 Catra (She-Ra: Princess of Power)

How could we not include this bitch? She was always trying to defeat She-Ra but would always end up in a puddle of water or something. Catra was so hot because, despite being able to turn into a cat herself, she used to get carted around by her cat Clawdeen. The bitch is so self-entitled!

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When you’d buy the action figure it described her as a “jealous beauty.” A few years ago some friends and I were going to start a band called CATRA: JEALOUS BEAUTY! Our first album was going to be called “Anxiety and Falcon Crest” [sic]. How hot would this whore be on the cover?

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#3 Evil Lyn (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe)

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The mother of all bitches! Every little boy was scared of her, unless they were gay in which case they wanted to be her! Evil-Lyn was Skeletor’s bitch but she really ran the roost. She always reminded me of Linda Dano. Look, isn’t the resemblance clear? Actually, Linda Dano sort of looks like Gozar from Ghostbusters.

Evil-Lyn is the only person on our list to be featured on the big screen in form of none other than the extremely scary MEG FOSTER. Meg, of course, is best known for her creepy eyes, Beverly D’Angelo wannabe look and for getting her ass fired from the Cagney and Lacey pilot! She’s so hot in the Masters of the Universe movie because she is a galactic conqueror and at one point kicks Courtney Cox’s ass!

#2 Bianca Dupree (Beverly Hills Teens)

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Bianca is so evil and prissy, she’s like a teenage cartoon version of Alexis Carrington, from Dynasty. Beverly Hills Teens was a ridiculous cartoon from 1987 about super-rich teens that all hung out at a country club and dated each other. Despite being loaded, they all wore the same fucking clothes everyday! Bianca was the rich bitch of the group and was so hot! She had a dog Fifi and a chauffeur Wilshire that loved her ass but she treated him like shit!

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Bianca was always scheming to break up supercouple Troy and Lark and get Troy for herself. Seen here is that trifecta of power, along with some irritating short kid.

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When I first met Michael K, one of the first things we talked about was how hot Bianca was! It bonded us forever. This is for you Michael K—long live Bianca!

#1 Smurfette (The Smurfs)

Holy shit! The choice was clear—Smurfette is #1! OK, so later in the series they introduced a little girl smurf called Sassette and an older, matronly smurf called Nanny Smurf, but until then Smurfette was the run of the town–if she wanted to get laid, she had the entire Smurf Village at her disposal. What a royal queen bitch! Good for her!

What makes Smurfette even more complex as a slut is that Gargamel made her in his stewpot as a decoy for the smurfs, and she originally had black hair, but she became blond when Papa Smurf worked a spell on her that made her into a real smurf, and she gained a certain conscience that allowed her to sympathise with the smurfs and learn to detest her creator. But she was still the only female smurf. Consequently, she wanted to fuck Brainy and Hefty and Dreamy and Clumsy and Grouchy and Jokey. And everybody else. Good for her!

The disgusting thing is that at least two of the three female smurfs (Smurfette and Sassette) were actually created as evil at first by Gargamel, as tools to tempt the male smurfs (whose reproductive apparatus, apparently, remains a mystery). How fucking sexist is that? But Smurfette is still a hot slut because she’s the prissiest, bossiest, baddest bitch in town, and she and Papa Smurf had the will to overcome Gargamel’s evil plot! And that’s why she is #1.

So there you have it: the top 15, er, 16, hot cartoon sluts of the ’80s, by Lahoma00 of DListed (and with help from moi)! Everything pink and pretty and frilly and teased and feathered and hairsprayed and overly made-up and clouded in cloying perfume has been encompassed in these precious female tokens of ’80s cartoon schlock. In a sense, it seems so blatantly sexist that the female characters are covered in feminine paraphernalia, but at the same time it seems kind of progressive for its time because they all tend to be pretty assertive and plucky and powerful, full of agility and ingenuity. As a boy, I always admired them as champions of the underdog. Gloria Steinem once said on this Youtube clip I once watched that women can find power in being sexual. She didn’t actually say that verbatim–I am trying to remember what she said exactly–but she basically acknowledged that women can leverage power through being sexual agents–as opposed to servants. Because, after all, traditionally, women have been sex-servants, no? Should they be? No. That’s the point.

So these hot cartoon sluts are iconoclasts! No, you can’t run in heels, but you can stab a rapist in the eyeball with a good steel stiletto. These girls can run, kick, punch, and look pretty all at the same time! There’s no good reason why they can’t be all of these things at once if they want to be. All they need is a gay make-up artist and a male nanny to take care of the little shit. And a supportive hag-fag when they have to pop one out of the oven. Ain’t a pretty sight. Somebody has to be there to say, “It’s OK”.





Tomorrow’s World

9 10 2011

I have been waiting for this day for four years, yet somehow it feels like just another release date. I guess I’m showing my age. Erasure have released Tomorrow’s World, named after the British 1980s science documentary series. And I have to say, with the help of Frankmusik, the album is awash in smooth, modern dance sensibility. Well, two-thirds of it, at least. The other third is a little bit more anchored in the soul-gospel balladry which places focus on lead singer Andy Bell’s distinctly bold voice. But, then, his voice soars in the dance tunes, too. The strength of the album is in how Andy’s voice–which sounds particularly strong and stable–glides atop the chic dance grooves.

Consider the track “I Lose Myself”, with its hard, deliberate rhythm and rich, unabashed vocals:

If you ask me, it sounds like a well-polished, modern twist on early New Order. But it hasn’t really been done before; it’s a new kind of fierce dance-pop. (By the way, New Order’s lead singer, Bernard Sumner, is releasing an electronic album soon.)

Now consider the more vulnerable sound of “Be With You”, characterized by an irresistibly loping beat and Andy’s longing, soaring voice:

This is the way ballads should sound: originally conceived to be slow, but re-interpreted as a dance track to inject a throbbing energy which only elevates the soulful vocals.

Then there is “A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot”, the ultimate cynical commentary on the vapidity of British club culture in the 2010s:

This song is like “I Lose Myself” in its intense, driving rhythm, but it is a little bit ironic how it criticizes the banality of modern British dance music while co-opting that same style and creating a much more lush, melodic, tightly-structured, tuneful sound–which is the way dance music should sound anyway.

Finally, we arrive at my favourite track, “Fill Us With Fire”. I like this track in particular because of my spiritual bent. (I believe in something greater than myself, but ultimately what matters is how we treat one another. Indeed, for me, that is the purpose of spirituality.) It is a rumination on the woes of humankind and a plea for rationality and self-reflection. At the same time, it doesn’t sound too didactic. It is truly a treat for the ears and the mind:

Something about this song evokes climbing a ladder. As I listen to the verse, then the bridge, and then, finally, the chorus, it feels as if I am ascending into a higher place. It is one of Erasure’s most divinely contemplative compositions, in my opinion. It is just sublime.

So that is the sound of Erasure circa 2011. The production was done by Frankmusik , a highly talented and emerging electronic dance artist. And we know the name-brand sound ofVince Clarke, a skilled and timeless “tone-smith” who creates the instrumental soundscape of Erasure, not to mention his bandmate Andy Bell, a prominent songwriter and vocalist. I cannot describe to you the amazing talent produced by Mute, which includes artists like Moby and Goldfrapp. Their skils combined, these individuals should make you shit tears of joy. Honestly.





My Guiltiest Pleasure

30 08 2011

It might just be what you expected, you creep, hoarding innumerable dusky italo gems yourself inside the hidden niches of your deep, dark, depraved mind. Yes, you have stolen my thoughts. These melodic, minimalist dance anthems were made for us to relish in unparalleled ecstasy, you knowing whore. The embarrassing relic of which I speak is the impeccable 1983 italo-disco classic “Hypnotic Tango”, by the band My Mine, from Perugia, Italy. (I was playing with my Barbie Dolls and watching Cyndi Lauper dance barefoot on MTV at the time.) Is it just me, or is the chorus absolutely infectious? I will not apologise for adorning each Youtube video of the song I can find with tokens of my adoration. Neither should you. It seems as though everybody who likes this stuff is either Latin American or Eastern European. Sigh. The trials of being cosmopolitan.

Please enjoy the comical version first, if simply to quench your thirst for the mockery of that which you yourself secretly desire:


And now you can unfetter that old, faggish heart of yours, crushed as it is into a hard, pressure-cooked stone by aeons of ugly homophobia, to savour the original version as it was meant to be savoured: with a nice lemon liqueur and a lonely, neglected turntable:

Now that you are smeared in a thick coat of shame, let us continue. What we will now do is re-create the same horrific and beautiful effect, bangs, mousse, and shoulder-pads intact, in a live video featuring strange clowns and not-so-naïve New Romantic hooligans cavorting in a sea of crazed faces. It’s so Almodovar it’s silly:

Ah. Exactly. You are mesmerized. Now that you have slavered over the gorgeous gem that is “Hypnotic Tango”, let me assault you with a live version of the song in which you can bury your teeth, eyes, and ears. Yum, yum. This is pure, unabashed space-disco, ladies, and he’s dancing for you and the gents:

Ah. Yes. All that messy tomfoolery. How did we lose it? How did we abandon eccentricity? Perhaps it was a backlash against Thatcher and Reagan, who were in power at the time. Perhaps conservatives antagonised the already-flourishing music and fashion movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, causing it to blossom into something more carnivalesque than we could ever imagine in our wildest acid trip. O, the ebb and flow of weirdness. For some reason, while conservatives held power in both Britain and America, there was a strict counter-culture that said the exact opposite in fashion, make-up, hair, and dance beat. Eventually these may have blurred together through commercialism, but I think it originated in the norm versus punk and new wave culture.

And now hipsters are reinventing italo-disco like it’s the shit—and they should, because it is. That is why we have bad-ass record labels like Italians Do It Better and fly bands like Glass Candy, Desire, Chromatics, and Cosmetics—to pick up where seminal artists like Giorgio Moroder left off and to carry on the legacy of elegant cosmic disco tunes, but with a fresh, modern, psychedelic twist. Just listen to how forward-sounding the synthesised bassline of “Hypnotic Tango” is; it totally presages the frenetic trance sound of the late 1990s—and now it takes on a loping, somewhat lustier shape in the early 2010s indie disco scene, ready to leap in leopard skin on to the dancefloor.

The genius of the nu disco artists is that they re-marry dance beats with melody, meaningful lyrics, and live band performance while creating a fresh new sonic texture using innovative technology. The result is that you can dance to a cool, modern song on the dancefloor and sing to it at the same time without having to be on drugs. Thank goodness we have little gems like “Hypnotic Tango” to inspire a generation bred on lacklustre brain-garbage.