Monday, August 11, 2008

Life in Low Motion and other concerns...

It's been a while, but now I'm back to post about some stuff I've been meaning to post about in, like, ages or something...

One of my personal favourite albums of the year so far and one which has been getting even more repeat spins as of late (put it down to the inclement summer we've been having) is Low Motion Disco's Keep It Slow. Released on the always-excellent Eskimo a couple of months ago (vinyl version comes with a CD too! Good thinking, Eskimo), Keep It Slow sees LMD easily passing that most difficult of acid tests for dance music producers; making a coherent, indelible statement outside of the 12" comfort zone.

Keep It Slow pretty much sums up LMD's aesthetic, as does their name and it's a mantra that's interwoven so definitively throughout the album, even reflecting itself in the song titles (most of them contain some derivation of the words 'low' or 'slow'). It's Low Motion Disco's humanist, emotional take on the now uber-hip cosmic disco sound that marks it out from the crowd. Whereas others use the cosmic sonic template as a means to stretch out grooves to breaking point, making for ultimate DJ-set fodder, there's a timeless quality to LMD's debut that transcends mere of-the-moment bandwagon-jumping.

Ultimately, it's also fairly accessible. I can see Keep It Slow breaking through into the lucratve dinner party listening/ad-soundtracking market, but it's too good for that. Although it occasionally strikes all-too-familiar touchstones (sampling 'Ooh Child' and calling the track 'Things Are Gonna Get Easier' is a bit on-the-nose, don'tcha think?), nothing about Keep It Slow suggests laziness. From the gently-tweaked funk guitar of 'Frantic Low Moment', to 'People Come In Slowly''s driving bass and low-key beat, the hippy-dippy tambourines and acoustic guitars of 'East Mountain Low' to 'Born On The Low Wind''s sheep samples (!), this is a chillout album (as loathe as I am to use that phrase, it definitely applies here) that packs more invention and warmth into each track than your average record of that ilk does over 12. You do the maths.

Low Motion Disco - Talk Low When In Space (mp3)

Low Motion Disco - Low Italian Dessert (Try It Out) (mp3)

Low Motion Disco - Love Love Love (L.S.B. Mix) (mp3)

The Belgians are really spoiling us. Eskimo have also recently released the superb Best Of Allez Allez compilation which acts as a fantastic entry-point to probably the funkiest band to ever come out of the home of chocolates and smurfs (I love a lazy stereotype). Plenty new-wave bands in the early-80s experimented with disco and African rhythms, but few did it with the unreconstructed verve and effervescence of Allez Allez. It helped that they had one of the more charismatic vocalists of the time in American Sarah Osbourne (later Sarah Gregory after she married Heaven 17 frontman, Glenn), but Allez Allez also had an absolute killer rhythm section, one that is really pushed to the fore on the eight original cuts here.

'She's Stirring Up' is something of a cross between Chic, Tom Tom Club and early Spandau Ballet (I'm thinking of 'Chant No. 1', rather than 'Gold' or 'True') and the band's self-titled anthem with its rolling piano, plucked bass and cowbell is one hell of a party starter. Elsewhere, you've got the Grace Jones homage/pastiche of 'African Queen', the uptight funk of 'Wrap Your Legs (Around Your Head)' and the moody, Martyn Ware-produced 'Valley Of The Kings' that nicely represent all facets of this forgotten great band's meagre output (they lasted a mere two years, putting out just two full-lengths).

On top of the eight original cuts, you get four remixes which seem a little like afterthoughts (as good as they are) next to the fantastic originals. Don't let Allez Allez remain a footnote, as this compilation proves they were one of the more vibrant, invigorating European bands of the 80s.

Allez Allez - She's Stirring Up (mp3)

Allez Allez - Wrap Your Legs (Around Your Head) (mp3)

A couple more things of note now. If you happen to pick up this month's issue of Arena Magazine and turn to page 70, there's a little article on mp3 bloggers. In the sidebar, you'll find a little spotlight on three bloggers and one of them is me. Nice of them that, isn't it. Apparently, I'm "laconic" and "articulate". They forgot to include "dashingly handsome", but I'll let them off.

Thanks to everyone who came down to the first Dig For Victory! a couple of weeks ago. There weren't all that many of you but, hey, from small acorns and all that. More info on the next one coming very soon, but in the meantime, here's a link to a little promo mix I put together for the night and distributed through Facebook (you should join the Facebook group, actually. What harm could it do?). Tracklisting below...

Dig For Victory! Promo Mix

The Staples Singers - Slippery People (Epic)
Junior Byron - Dance To The Music (Vanguard)
The Beta Band - The House Song (Regal)
INXS - Need You Tonight (The Lonely Mix) (Atlantic)
Owusu & Hannibal - What's It About (Ubiquity Records)
Marvin Gaye - Funky Space Reincarnation (OOFT Music Edit) (Five20East)
Daft Punk - Da Funk (Virgin)
Marsha Hunt - Hot Rod Poppa (Track Record)
Can - I Want More (Virgin)
Jollymusic - Radio Jolly (Illustrious)
Tori Amos - Professional Widow (SDC Disco Mix) (Five20East)
Stevie Wonder - All I Do (U-tern Edit) (No Label)

That's all for now!


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