Another audio treat from the Italians Do It Better camp arrived this morning with a blend of material from Chromatics entitled Running From The Sun.
To commemorate the soon to be released second edition of After Dark, Italians Do It Better have released a remastered blend of the seminal first compilation.
Some five years after the seminal After Dark compilation was released, Italians Do It Better will finally release a second edition.
Given the fashion for library music, disco noir and the synth-heavy soundtrack work of Goblin and John Carpenter, it was probably inevitable that Italians Do It Bettter would dip their toe into cinematic waters at some point. That Glass Candy/Chromatics producer Johnny Jewel is the man to take the plunge is little surprise, either; while he’s previously shown few signs of wanting to swap avant synthesizer disco and dark-pop for sweeping strings, grandiose orchestral arrangements and recurring themes, there’s an evocative, melodic feel to his work that suggests he’d be rather good at scoring films.
Given his position as one of the overlooked stars of 1980s Italian dance music, it’s perhaps fitting that Italo-obsessed hipsters Italians Do It Better are attempting to give veteran vocalist Fred Ventura a new lease of life. For the uninitiated, Ventura began his career in the early 80s, providing vocals for obscure Italo-disco cuts before finding more success with Bobby O/Pet Shop Boys-ish Eurodisco hits like “Heartbeat”. By the tail end of the 1980s, he had developed a following both in Europe’s gay scene and on daytime radio.
This release could be seen as something of an attempt to celebrate Ventura’s largely little-known contribution to Italian dance music in the 80s. For those with a keen interest in what came after Italo-disco, it’s certainly worth a listen. Most enticingly, these are previously unreleased tracks – demos that were recorded by Ventura between 1984 and 87. “The Years (Go By)” – included in both vocal and instrumental versions – actually sounds surprisingly ‘now’, like brand new Italians Do It Better material. Ventura’s uncomfortable, Italian-singing-in-English vocals soar above the sort of chiming, sparkling European synth-pop backing track that has inspired so many contemporary disco and pop producers. It reminds us of Behaviour-era Pet Shop Boys, but without the knowing wink and Neil Tennant’s lyrical flair.
“You Want Me” provides more dancefloor oomph thanks to a combination of flowing electric pianos (a staple of Italian synth-pop during this period), bouncing electro-funk bass and big chords. But what really makes the track is Ventura’s vocal, which is in parts strangely anthemic and in others curiously off-kilter. Taken as a whole, “You Want Me” sounds like an Italian take on Human League circa Penthouse & Pavement, or ABC had they not hooked up with Trevor Horn.
Wisely, Italians Do It Better have saved the best till last. “Don’t You Want Me” is a joyous blast of disco-pop – all clipped funk guitars, uplifting melodies and thick synth-bass topped off with an urgent vocal from Ventura. It sounds like a long-lost radio hit. It’s the perfect end to a fitting celebration of Italian musical history.
Italians Do It Better are seemingly no closer to releasing Into The Black, the much vaunted follow up to their breakthrough compilation After Dark, but label boss Mike Simonetti has unveiled details of his first solo production endeavour which is set for release on the label next month.
Title: Feeling Without Touching
Label: Italians Do It Better
Buy From: Juno Download
In the second instalment of our two-part feature on New Jersey label Italians Do It Better (check out our interview with Johnny Jewel here), we speak to the label’s founder, Mike Simonetti. Under Mike’s stewardship, the imprint has cultivated a reputation for releasing superb disco (and the odd house) cuts.
In the first of a two part feature on the Italians Do It Better label, we speak to Johnny Jewel, the creative spark behind the imprint, responsible for everything from the vinyl and flyer artwork to production for the likes of Desire, Mirage, Glass Candy and Chromatics. In a rare interview, the Montreal-based producer spoke to Juno Plus editor Aaron Coultate about the new After Dark series, the pitfalls of hype and why he is an artistic caveman.