[19 October 2008]
Synthesis in popular culture seems to cyclically undo itself—futuristic ‘80s builds on Northern Soul led to revived interested in Motown (and some kind of associated “authenticity” of grit). Now it seems that the electro-house blogging elite have turned their sites toward disco; the more obscure and French, the better! It’s perfect timing, then, for fresh ears on Allez Allez, a brief, bright blip of Belgian disco and new wave from the early ‘80s.
As a frontwoman, American Sarah Osbourne is possessed of the same celebratory ecstasy as contemporary Lizzy Mercier Descloux, while musicians Kristiaan Debusscher and Nicolas Fransolet search for the African polyrhythmic routes in American disco. The results are sublime pieces like “She’s Stirring Up” or “Marathon Dance”, balanced out by the slower mystery of “African Queen”. Then there’s the unusually accented bongos on “Wrap Your Legs (Around Your Head)”, which wins first prize in the title competition.
Of course, a retrospective these days isn’t complete without remixes from the some hot young producers, and Best of Allez Allez obliges with four tacked on at the end. Thankfully, the remixers don’t try to vomit ugly electro-house beats on the source material, preferring instead to beef up the percussion, and let a few passages ride a minute or so longer. Least essential of the reworkings is, surprisingly, the most well know, as Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas add six minutes of running time and some unnecessarily annoying wood blocks and synth squeals to the airtight “Allez Allez”. Still, the main event—those dynamite originals—hit the sweet spots of the soul and the pelvis, and what’s more important than that?