Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cosmic Mentalists

Daniele Baldelli's influence on DJ culture cannot be overstated. Almost as revered as the likes of Larry Levan and Ron Hardy, it's only in the last few years that his influence has really been felt outisde his native Italy. Of course, 'round these parts today it's all cosmic disco and whatnot, but this guy was doing it back in the late '70s on the shores of Lake Garda at his club, the appropriately-monikered Cosmic. Baldelli's trick was to mix up all sorts of genres and styles, as long as he could pitch it down or up to around 100bpm.

Anyway, the Baldelli story is one for another time and a writer better versed in the mythology surrounding the man. In tandem with partner-in-sonics, Marco Dionigi, Baldelli has a new mix coming out on April 21st through Eskimo, entitled Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock! and it's an absolute corker. Baldelli and Dionigi edit and filter eighteen tracks of Eurotrashy rock, synth-pop, new beat and new wave from the early 80s through their own cosmic vision and it's one of the most crowd-pleasing, yet delightfully strange mixes I've heard in quite some time.

Where else are you going to find Ray Parker Jr. and Thompson Twins rubbing shoulders with the esoteric likes of Strafe Fur Rebellion and Richard Bone? Immense replay value and just good fun in the purest sense of the word, not to mention massively danceable and addictive, Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock! should by rights become essential listening for those interested in mixes that take the road less travelled without disappearing up Rectum Lane. Can't recommend this one enough.

Here's a few tracks that Baldelli and Dionigi use, although they appear in differing forms on the mix...

Fra Lippo Lippi - Say Something (mp3)

La Bionda - I Got Your Number (mp3)

Thompson Twins - Beach Culture (Long Version) (mp3)

I've lavished praise upon Per Martinsen's electro-pop project, Frost on these pages in the past (their 2007 full-length, Love! Revolution! made number 50 in my albums list last year), but I haven't shown much love for his solo turn, Mental Overdrive before. Don't know why, because I've been a fan since I first heard about him about eighteen months ago. As regular readers will know, I'm a sucker for the Norwegian stuff, but Mental Overdrive is an altogether more malevolent beast than most of his Scandinavian compatriots.

Perhaps closest in spirit to DiskJokke, but a little darker, a little less technicolour, MO's music skirts and blurs the lines between disco, techno, punk (in spirit, at least) and house with panache, consummate ease and a winning sense of the perverse. He's about to release his fourth album proper through Smalltown Supersound, You Are Being Manipulated and as the title suggests, it's a manic, paranoid, schizoid stalk through the aforementioned genres and quite possibly his most accomplished album to date. More focused than 1999's Ad Absurdum and 2004's brilliantly messy 083, You Are Being Manipulated is both the most easily digestible record he's released under the Mental Overdrive blanket and his most sonically adventurous.

Martinsen flirts with, screws up and fucks over punk-funk (most obviously the sinewy bass and spare percussion of ESG) on 'Original Material', covers Iron Maiden's 'Run To The Hills' in a manner that's both respectful and massively irreverent, gives 'The Rage' one of the most hilariously portentous breakdowns (complete with mangled, down-pitched "Turn it up"s, naturally) in years and in 'Europa', crafts one of the best chances of the Norwegian sound crossing over since 'I Feel Space'. All in all, You Are Being Manipulated is a bit of an achievement. Artistic growth for Martinsen and one of the most fully-realised albums to ever emanate from the Norwegian dance music scene.

Mental Overdrive - Spooks (mp3)

In other news: The Cosmic Disco boys recently posted a great, detailed track-by-track breakdown of the new Compass Point compilation on Strut (reviewed by my good self here). Check it out.

This is unbelieveably scary...

Check out the video entitled "I'm Joe and I'm A Ska Kid" and try not to punch your monitor.

I've set up a blog for all the bits of writing I do for other people (pretty much just High Voltage really). I've imaginatively called it Yer Mam! II. Go over and have a read, if you want.

That's all I've got for now. Back soon, though...


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Blogger jonthebeef said...

Wow, 2 posts in one night. You must be on speed or something.

12:01 am  
Blogger James said...

Just high on music, my friend. Buzzing off the beats.

12:09 am  

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