Disco Not Disco 1974-1986 Compilation, Import
Disco Not Disco explores original anthems and rarities from the world of 1970s and 80's post-punk and leftfield disco. It is the first release on the newly re-lanuched Strut label, and is the label's most popular series. Featured artists include Konk, Pigbag, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and James White & The Blacks.
I enjoyed all but "Your Life" and "Love Tempo", because these two drag on far too long. "Crunch Cake" sounds out of place, more like jazz fusion with a disco beat, but I liked it anyhow. My copy does contain "Kaddish", which is more down-tempo than the others, but good. Fans of synth and drum machine accompaniment without the overt 80's pop vibe will appreciate their usage on some of the tracks here. Saxophone and horn players with any talent appear to have unfortunately skipped out on contributing to this genre, so brace yourself when the brass comes on.
In addition, while I think the Talla 2XLC version of "Los Niños Del Parque" is alot more accessible and club friendly, the original fits better in this compilation. Otherwise, not bad.
True, it's not for everyone but I think this is a brilliant collection.
The biggest problem it faces (and fails to overcome) is it's inherent lack of warmth and richness. I suppose it would take on a different ambience if you were listening to it in a sweaty club waiting for Kraftwerk to come on, but these cuts laid out corpse-like on the slab, don't much engage the listener searching for aesthetic charge or stimuli. In short, it's bland and repetitive.
And that applies to the genre as a whole, not just this compilation.
It begins strongly with Vivien Goldman's floating wasp of a song 'Launderette' but it's a false dawn. The rest of 'DND' is predictable and repetitious. Tinny drum machines click away, funky basses throb, but it all seems a performance of duty. There's no guile or flexibility, it's all anodyne and static.
Shriekback's 'My Spine is the Bass Line' is a typical offender. Hiding under the 'experimental' banner, (ie; melody-less) it sputters about in limbo, trying hard (too hard?) to be gauche and vital but succeeding only in diverting the progressively apathetic listener into the paths of the far more accommodating Chic and Donna Summer.
The rest of 'DND' treads a monochord, kyphosis sing-song path. What vocals there are, are either typical Teutonic in robotic monotone, or charmless whispering in a desperate attempt to make it all sound sexy. A standard risible praxis. Functional. Automaton instead of autonomy. Riddled with cliché and wanton stubborness, it can't evolve into anything more than premeditated and straight-forward strangeness.
Each track goes on forever. There's a bewildering array of mixes and versions, which are supposedly activating and engaging the senses, but in reality are just piling on the agony.
It ends with two stormers by Six Said Red and Maximum Joy, but it's much too late in the day, the damage long being done.
Dance music without soul is an atrocious concept and in a very real sense - a contradiction in terms. 'The Hacienda Classics' is a much more satisfying collection, although not without flaws of it's own.
On this evidence, white boys (and girls) certainly can't play the funk, but they can clobber the attempt.
Some of these squeaky synths sound like cheap keyboards you might give a child for Christmas, and the unsurprising percussion, something you'd hear in a working man's club.
Worst of all, it's all so cripplingly serious. Too harsh, too formulaic, and you could say without a hint of irony, too European.
'DND' shortcomings are painfully obvious, and that's Blitz-Club, electro-dance music's problem to a tee.