From Goblin’s excessive near operatic soundtracks for Italian Giallo director Dario Argento (Suspiria) to John Carpenter’s (Escape From New York) synth experiments for his own films to Fabio Frizzi’s peculiarly sinister scores for the likes of Italian schlockmeister Lucio Fulci (Zombie), it’s safe to say that old school horror movie soundtracks are back. Thanks to the likes of Stranger Things and Death Waltz, those old synth scores of the 70’s and 80’s are increasingly being not just reissued, but mined and re imagined by folks like Pye Corner Audio and Repeated Viewer with a distinctively modern spin.
Giallo Disco is a label that focuses on this retro futurism, drawing from Italo Disco, Krautrock, electronic music and those incredible scores from the 70’s and 80’s. It’s run between Berlin and Vienna by Antoni Maiovvi and Vercetti Technicolor; both of whom produce their own take on horror electronics. Giallo Disco album covers are a dead giveaway, they’re nostalgia for a misspent youth, of having the bejesus scared out of you late at night watching way too many slasher films. They’re just about to drop to two new albums, Haex-Hrll (aka DJ Overdose)’s taut futuristic electro saga Further From The Truth, and the bleak cinematic funk of New York based Colombian Fiero’s Modus Operandi EP. Fiero in particular could be coming straight from the 70’s, with a sound somewhere between Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter, like much of Giallo Disco’s roster, it’s a driving synthetic score to an imagined thriller.
In the poorer outer suburbs of Lisbon, a place populated by low cost housing, comprised mostly of immigrants from the former African colonies Angola and Cape Verde, a musical revolution is happening. It’s the second-generation kids who are infusing their parents records collections with electronic music and creating something new and astounding. It’s Afro house music by way of the more traditional music of the region, in particular the percussive elements, combined and spat out through cracked fruity loops to become something new. Mashing genres like Kuduro, Batida, Kizomba and Zouk bass, many of these artists are really starting to push the boundaries of the genres, existing somewhere in the place afro house meets experimental lofi electronica, infusing the weirdness and laugh out loud vocal samples with incredible stuttering grooves, and most importantly bringing the party.
Whilst the likes of Buraka Som Sistema and Batida are probably the best known outside Portugal, it’s the artists who all seemed to be named Fox that feel like they’re offering something new and rawer. DJ Marfox is the spiritual godfather of the scene that has seen the likes of DJ NIgga Fox, DJ Liofox, and Famifox productions, released through local label Principe who curate limited run LP’s. Nigga Fox in particular, still in his early 20’s is responsible for the wonkiest electronic wig outs, and is something of a rising star, with a track apparently picked up by Thom Yorke for a mixtape, and now his EP is impossible to find.
Imagine Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water as a Latin tinged marimba work out, or David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes as a robotic electro ditty. Sound strange? Well strange is the entry point to the world of Uwe Schmidt (aka AtomTM, Geez ‘N’ Gosh, Lisa Carbon and about 50 other aliases), a man who firmly believes that humour belongs in music. He’s best known for his Senor Coconut guise and his cheeky kitsch Latin covers of Kraftwerk tunes, though he’s achieved well deserved near God like status in electronic music circles thanks to his amazing productions.
A German born electronic producer, he was a member of groundbreaking electro group Flanger with Burnt Friedman, before relocating to Chile in 1997 and releasing a slew of material on multiple labels including his own Rather Interesting imprint. It’s impossible to keep track of his endless stream of releases and aliases, however with this collection we at least have a starting point. There are seventeen tracks across nine aliases here, a multitude of styles and techniques, with most tunes imbued with a certain juvenile humour and a complexity in structure. The humour comes in the arrangement, the vocal content, or even song title. Suck my Groove anyone?
It’s electronic music masquerading as pop music, but it’s much smarter. Everything is perfectly constructed with multiple entry points. Whether it’s humour, stylistic fusions, or the complexity of the ingredients, it’s difficult not to marvel at the precocious talent of this man. There are crazy breakdowns, addictive grooves, silly vocals and odd sound effects. It’s difficult not to imagine Schmidt laughing hysterically to himself in the studio before he unleashes one of these incredible tunes on his unsuspecting audience. Genius has rarely been this enjoyable.
Bob Baker Fish
“there’s a mischievous experimental energy here, making Mountains feel at times like the quietest, most subtle noise band you’ve ever heard.”