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Various Artists

Elaste Vol. 1: Slow Motion Disco

Originals From the Cosmic Era

(Compost; US: 23 Jan 2007; UK: 20 Nov 2006)

Aah, the good old, blissful nights spent dancing to the far-out electronic sounds at the Discoteca Cosmic on the Adriatic Coast of Italy in the early ‘80s…


Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, the folks at Compost are betting that it doesn’t for most people. Apparently, the “Cosmic” sound was a locally-confined trend that, in a foreshadowing of the Belgian New Beat movement, was begat by slowing down 45 RPM dance records to 33 RPM for a more psychedelic, cereberal effect. Collected here, then, are 11 tracks that were actually played in Discoteca Cosmic. While none of them sound like the slowed-down variety, they are great examples of early ‘80s European synthesizer dance music. That does not necessarily mean that they are great songs, though. The hypnotic, slightly funky electro-pulse of Love International’s “Dance on the Groove” and Doctor’s Cat’s sassy “Crash” holds up pretty well.  The best-known track here, Heaven 17’s pounding anti-consumerist rant “I’m Your Money” is a high point of the time period in both style and content. Most of the rest provide some good examples of what early-‘80s synthesizer technology could do, but little more (one item of trivial interest: Legendary session drummer Steve Ferrone, currently of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, plays on Clive Stevens & Brainchild’s “Mystery Man”). Memory Control One’s “Basic” is typical: Great sounds; dated, cheesy arrangement.


Listening to Slow Motion Disco, you can hear a possible precursor to chill-out. Then again, much of it isn’t too different from what Mannheim Steamroller was doing at the time.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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