[14 February 2007]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
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.