Culture

First there were a few more club flyers boldly proposing a shift from Acid, if not nationally, at least amongst that ficklest of fraternities, the London club scene. Then came the news filtering through from the States of obscure 12"s on independent continental labels cropping up in weekly dance charts. Top House producer Kevin Saunderson started name checking the discs, Red Rhino started importing them, London Records suggested the inevitable compilation and every A&R man in the land jumped aboard a Sabena airline flight to check out the new talent. A disjointed, subsonic dance pulse is causing the biggest shock waves ever to grace European ears. The sound is New Beat and it's coming outta Belgium. Belgium? C'mon, what the hell is going on?

It's hard, at first, to see how a story about a building could also be a story about memory, status, nostalgia, money, madness (in)experience, simple greed (and saintly generosity), youth, life, death and violence. Even music. Not really a story at all then. More like a soap opera. As far as most people are concerned, the story of a building which became a club, an idea and even a lifestyle begins in the middle. And the end? Well, there isn't one yet. Because this story is a cultural autopsy with the death certificate lost forever in the post.

1985. Since house was first and foremost a direct descendant of disco. Disco had already been going for ten years when the first electronic drum tracks began to appear out of Chicago, and in that time it had already suffered the slings and arrows of merciless commercial exploitation, dilution and racial and sexual prejudice which culminated in the 'disco sucks' campaign. In one bizarrely extreme incident, people attending a baseball game in Chicago's Komishi Park were invited to bring all their unwanted disco records and after the game they were tossed onto a massive bonfire.

In its original incarnation, Electro was black science fiction teleported to the dancefloors of New York, Miami and LA; a super-stoopid fusion of video games, techno-pop, graffiti art, silver space suits and cyborg funk. Now that Electro is back, David Toop provides a thumbnail guide to the music that posed the eternal question: 'Watupski, bug byte?'

In order to explore the roots of Italo Disco, we have to go back to the end of the seventies when Disco music was at the height of its popularity. Italo Disco, or better said, Dance Music Made In Italy, following the exact meaning of words, drew inspiration from many existing sources. One of them was American Disco & Funk.

"Oooh oooh Techno city
Hope you enjoy your stay
Welcome to Techno city
You will never want to go away"

--Cybotron, "Techno City" (1984)

"The 'soul' of the machines has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in life... in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in anything... so, the machines produce an absolutely perfect trance."
--Ralf Hütter, 1991, in Kraftwerk: Man Machine and Music, by Pascal Bussy

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