Posted on September 29, 2010 - by Mark Zonda
It was more or less 9 months ago that I decided to start this little adventure. Nine month, like the time an embryo spends in his wombs waiting to see the light or just a notorious sparkling album from the Bad Boys from Boston. How did it all began? Guess when I was 8, living in the ’80s, being left alone with a tape recorder in my grandmother’s house with my first original LP compilation. Still remember what was in there. I used to listen to that tape thousand of times. P. Lion “Happy Children”, Albert One “Turbo Diesel” and obviously Bit Bit “Run Computer Games”. It was strange having the sound of the future coming to my hears as the first things being heard by a young boy having sinthetizers and drum machines on vocoders being the equivalent of what “Rock Around The Clock” represented to my parents. Comparing to those sounds we’re really living in caves by now.
There was a period when Italy had the chance to rule the World (let’s say at least Europe) like it never did since the Roman Empire, and it was naff but fun! What happened to that music? In a word: overproduction, we fed up, it was clear it was all faked up, Nirvana came and we turned page on pop guide for beginners.
Not so much glory for the singers, always faking American names looking for quick success and press attention, but we had some great tunes! A first attempt to go back to those sound was made some years ago by the J-Rock band The Brilliant Green‘ singer Tomoko Kawase along with the project “Tommy February6” (she even hold a partnership with Sanrio for using the characters Little Twin Stars). A second most recent explicit coming for the Italo Disco genre came more recently from Sweden by the singer Sally Shapiro. Her album got really popular, still no other artists followed her producer musical path and there was actually no new wave to blast a scene.
It was crazy. Just look at the potential Italo Music could have had today: all you needed was a microphone, some crazy lyrics about nightlife and a keyboard, then you’re ready for socials!
At the same time me and a group of friends started to listen huge loads of more and more obscure Italo Disco songs, being the only common ground we had coming down to musical taste we could stand for more than one minute and a half. Eager for more songs, we dig and dug through wiki and stuff on the web, not so slightly discovering taht – unbelievable – Italo Disco (also known as Eurodance) was serious stuff! There were musical rules and precise aesthetics to follow, and I began to be fascinated by this little universe.
It was decided. I had to try! On December 2009 I launched the Neo Italo Disco Movement, writing down a dogma with some simple rules, and starting to ask friend musicians to take part to the project in order to make an album with original songs following those canonic rules with the fresh point of view and mind of a 2010 indie point of view. It was Italo 2.o!
I must say it was real fun! Hiding ourselves under fake Neo Italo names (don’t know why we ended up on picking French alias, not being aware to create the first Neo Italo canon) the first help came from the Sweden project Stars in Coma and Charley Rivel from The Mare. Some bands was so cool that we even faked some interviews, with Friday Bridge reversing the trend of a singer pretending to be a band and bringing to life the spoiled pop star Silvia Paradiso (even designing the cover of unexisting vynils!) and Carlos from Fitness Forever pretending to be an REAL singer from the ’80s right in the time when I was interviewing Alan Sorrenti, Tom Hookers, Reeds, Silvana Aliotta from Le Streghe and Linda Rizzo from Flirts for the project.
Time passed, and not only and album was completed. It happened I started my own label, and I was so proud to share this work under its wings. What came out is a collection of great electro pop tunes ending to be quite actual now that bands like MGMT, Neon Bible, Hot Chip are turning back to those sounds.
The final editing of the album was given to Matthew Williams form “The Brigadier” (who took part to the project with the impressive and articulated “Church of Sound”) who gave a proper order to the songs. There could not possibly be no better opening than Friday Bridge‘s “Into The Night”. One of the most impressive thing of the project – and almost surprising too – was having the band bringing out from the cylinder some of their best songs ever. “Into the night” is no exception and gave me real thrills on the first listening. Frday Bridge has always been one of my favourite bands ever, and I always thought that their “Love & Nostalgia” is one of the finest pop ballad ever. They also co-starred the same compilation with my band Tiny Tide some years ago for BonVivant Records “Pop Nation”, so I was really excited on having them joying the project and being so nice with me.
One of the elements that marked this work was the collaboration between artists. “Le Petit Chenilles” was no exception to the rule. One of the theme bands had to chose for their new original songs was “the future”. Michele Modenini, once playing for an Italian electro project called “Mod.9″, came with this song with no lyrics, and it was a real pleasure for me writing down the words about a scientist creating an immortal drone to love forever and survive his creator death and bring out my ’80s Bowiesque voice to sing along Michele dark electro score. With its distorted synths and up beats, “Astro Fille” ended to be the “Ashes to Ahses” of the album. A very close feeling is held by “Jelly Fish”, a song from a band from Rome called “Formanta!”. A very balanced distribution of male and female voices on the album was a great success as well.
The only American response to Disco came from the “Still Flyin’” collective, singing about the apotheosis of one of the themes bands had to pick, that is “nightlife”. Their “Camouflage Detection” has been sometimes confused with a direct hint on Lapo Elkann camouflaging in the anonymous crowd of a basketball match deciding to suddenly break all the rules catching a ball meant to be out, but it’s really about this bad lover chasing impossible dreams and trying to run from lights and sense of doubts (I think).
Once again it’s “night life”, and the album closes with “King of the Parking”, a song I played and wrote singed by the musical singer Ildy Minardi with a little help on editing and effects by the New Zeland indie popster Anthony Rochester.
I think after all U.N.DISCO is a nice little project that deserve to be explored and enjoyed. Don’t now if Neo Italo will become a tiny mania and spread on discos all over the World. All I know it’s that it was really funny to work on that, and we hope to share the same fun with you. Long live the synths!