Hot Pony, Vexkiddy and Antoni Maiovvi's bi-monthly gathering at Sameheads, is arguably one of Berlin's best-kept secrets. Their spin-off label, Royal Athlete - which also explores their Italo-disco, synth-wave and synth-boogie influences - seems to be similarly under-appreciated, despite a strong track record. There's certainly much to admire on this latest multi-artist E.P, from the elastic freestyle revivalism of Aux Tha Masterfader's brilliant "Let's Dance To The Beat", and The Real Kent Clark's glistening synth-pop bubbler "Make It Right", to the chugging, spacey and druggy shuffle of Dilemma's "Bocca Nights". Chaconna's sparkling instrumental synth-pop opener, "Dreamers" is our pick of a strong bunch.
Having been impressed by his contribution to one of their multi-artist EPs, Royal Athlete chiefs Vexkiddy and Anton Maovvi have decided to out Don Chrelli's debut EP. Predictably, it's rather good, featuring four breezy, attractive, Jam and Lewis-era '80s soul and boogie originals. You'll find plenty of pop hooks, sing-along choruses and American AM radio-friendly synth sounds on the likes of "Caramel", "Pleasure" and lilting, jammed-out standout "2 U", which also boasts some Roger Troutman-esque talk box action. Ourra provides the standout remix, adding extra layers of mid-'80s big studio polish to 'Pleasure", though the driving, Italo-disco style version of "Caramel" by Pin Up Club is also rather tasty.
Few labels do revivalist boogie, electrofunk and Italo-disco quite as well as Berlin's Royal Athlete. For proof, just check out this multi-artist EP, which is just overflowing with synth-heavy goodness. Atmospheric '80s pop revivalists Private Agenda get things going with the dreamy "Tender", before occasional PPU contributor Sven Atherton drops an authentic chunk of Balearic-minded synth-funk (the standout "Last Of The Linn"). Other highlights include the piano-heavy boogie business of "Bass Finger" by Liquid Pegasus and the emotion-rich soul wonkiness of Rick Wreck's raw and teary-eyed "Heartache 2 Heartbreak". In other words, it's another essential EP from the Royal Athlete camp.
Royal Athlete is a new venture from Berlin's Hot Pony party, a well-loved excuse to play camp Italo, boogie and '80s electro from former Bristol residents Vexkiddy and Antoni Maovvi. Both offer up tracks on this debut single, with Vexkiddy's bouncy synth funk throw-down "Robotic Understanding" - all squidgy melodies and darting rhythms - just edging out Maovvi's italo-revivalism in the highlight stakes. Elsewhere, UK Italo royalty Bill Ambrose and Marika Gauchi join forces as The Dreamers' for the deliciously camp "He's My Man", before Berlin newcomer Dimitri SoEmotional delivers "Unconditionally", a Benny Badge/Inkswel style chunk of deep modern boogie. If all Royal Athlete releases are going to be this strong, it will be a label to watch in future.
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