Review: San Francisco's Dark Entries label does a good line in reissuing obscure, long forgotten, left-of-centre gems (their excellent collection of Patrick Cowley's little known soundtrack work for gay porn films, School Daze, was arguably one of the compilations of 2013). Here, they've unearthed another overlooked gem - Art Fine's previously rare-as-hen's-teeth dark Italo-disco gem "Dark Silence" (L200-plus for an original 1985 copy, should you be feeling flush). It's pretty much a straight copy of the New Wave-inclined original, with the sparser, looser "Long Version" (in which producer Fabrice Belli gives the synth melodies a little more room to express themselves) joining the dense "Art Fine Version".
Review: Stupendously rare Italo gem from the criminally under-prolific Trieste-based Big Ben Tribe, this quirky poplet first came our way in 1984 on Gong. Last spotted changing hands for hundreds on auction sites, Dark Entries have done the disco world a favour and licensed a reissue. Untouched and naked in all its 80s glory, the synth patterns, abstract lyrics and arrangement were way ahead of their time and clearly influenced many electronic pop and Balearic bands who followed. Vocals just a bit too much for you? No worries, just flip for the instrumental. Tarzan loves summer nights, and we love Dark Entries for unearthing this utter classic.
Review: San Francisco's Dark Entries has a rising reputation for the quality of their Italo-disco reissues. Certainly, many of the tracks they select for re-release are undeniably obscure and in-demand. Blue Russell's "I Wanna Fly Away", originally released in 1984 on leading Italo-disco imprint Discomagic Records, definitely falls into this category (an original copy will set you back well over L100, should you find one). It's a typically fruity concoction, with bold synthesizer lines and Europop-influenced melodies riding a chugging groove. Just like the hard-to-find original pressing, Dark Entries' reissue boasts both the delightfully camp vocal version, and a chunkier instrumental.
Review: As per usual, those fiendish folks over at Dark Entries have amazed us once again with yet another barrel of 1980s gold from the depths of the underground. This time it's German new wave band Boytronic who see a reissue, and the EP in question is 1988's "Byllyant", which features the magnificent Plus 8 mix - a shot to the head made up of warm bass tones and hard-hitting drum machine patterns - and also the US mix, which literally sounds like it was made yesterday; for being an '80s EP, Boytronic steered well clear of cheesy and to be honest, they give New Order a proper run for their money. The 1984 mix of "Trigger Track" is a wonderful electro stormer, stamping its fast beats over eerie pads and growling basslines. This would be silly not to recommend! For the diggers.
Review: If you've ever wanted some straight-up italo disco but then wondered where to find it, where to start, who to ask, then Dark Entries have sorted you right out. As usual, the label come through strong, and this time they reissue an italo disco classic by Brand Image (T.Scarfone and M.Scarabelli) originally released in 19983, and representing the genre with flying colours. "Are You Loving?" contains the 1980's in every sense of the word: quirky, melancholic vocals riding over a grainy drum machine beat, and accompanied by massive synth stabs and an inimitable sort of groove - simply lovely. There's an instrumental on the flip just in case you love the sounds but are slightly scared by the power of the vocals...
Review: To accompany their re-release of East Wall's superb 1991 debut album, Silence, Dark Entries has decided to put out the Italian band's forgotten debut release, 1985 single "Eye of Glass". Tending towards the darker end of the Italo-disco spectrum, but blessed with typically cheery synthesizer melodies and skewed female vocals, it's a record that seems far more inspired by the earlier British new wave synth-pop movement than pleasing the clubs of Rome or Rimini. The vocal version is accompanied by a subtly different instrumental, which includes waves of warm synths and offers more prominence to the band's bubbly electronics, throbbing arpeggio bassline, and delay-laden drum machine hits.
Review: There was a time when original copies of Fantasy Life's sought-after 1985 Italo-disco gem "Over & Over" were changing hands for several hundred pounds online. While prices have come down a bit over the years, it remains a rare and hard-to-find delight. Happily, Dark Entries has saved us all a few bob by serving up this licensed reissue. The original version really captures the charming essence of Italo disco, matching chugging, motorized arpeggio synth-bass with cheery (some would say cheesy) synth-pop melodies and a catchy, impassioned vocal. Turn to the flipside for the dub style instrumental, which reminded us a little of some of Bobby O's early productions for the Pet Shop Boys (who were, fittingly, huge Italo-disco fans at the time).
Review: Dark Entries' series of leftfield Italo-disco reissues continues with a double-header from prolific Italo disco session vocalist Helen (AKA Elena Ferretti), whose early excursions on obscure Italian labels Out Records and Discomagic have previously been the sole preserve of dusty-fingered crate-diggers. This EP brings together two of her finest EPs; 1983's scarce "Witch" - an exercise in bubbling, synth-pop inclined Italo-disco - and 1985's arguably better-known "Zanzibar". It's arguably the sparse, cowbell-laden "Afro Mix" - think Cosmic Club era Daniele Baldelli - of this track that steals the show, though all four tracks are shot through with that European strangeness that often marks out the best early Italo cuts.
Qu'est-Ce Qu'il A (D'Plus Que Moi Ce Negro La?) (4:30)
Hot Voodoo Dub (7:45)
Review: Legendary musician, DJ and broadcaster Philippe Krootchey was a hugely influential creative whirlwind throughout the 70s and 80s in France. Founder of Love International, frequent Casablanca collaborator with the likes of Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Mathematiques Modernes and an active member of France's foremost gay rights groups, his political and creative messages were clear in every action he made. Originally released in 1984, "Qu'est Ce Qu'il" carries a strong anti-racial message with humour that worked so well he re-sang it English and it eventually became "Whatazzy". Flip for "Hot Voodoo Dub" to find his creative messages as a studiosmith were also very clear.
Review: Classic Italo one-hit mystery, Tony More (or Tony Moore as he's often credited) gave the world this lavish futurist Marzio Benelli-written pop odyssey in 1985 before promptly disappearing. With original pressings fetching over L200, Dark Entries have democratised it for all to enjoy. And there's plenty to enjoy... A restrained by hooky riff, sparse but delicate and vulnerable vocals and a chugging synth groove that cuts with a heavy cinematic feel that's succinctly of its time. Complete with an instrumental for full mix creativity.
Review: A seminal 81/83 record that epitomised so many sounds and melting pots: synth wave, Italo, New Romantic, electro, proto house... The list of worlds this groundbreaking song traversed is remarkable. Here Dark Entries compile the four versions that were cut during its two key release phases on GC Recordings in 1981 and 1983 in all their remastered glory. Smouldering, moody and still relevant to so much going on musically, this is true piece of history.
Review: As obscure Italo-disco producers go, Clay Pedrini must be up there. During the early 1980s, he released just one single, but it was a biggie. "New Dream", here re-issued for the first time on vinyl by San Francisco's Dark Entries, was a massive club hit around Europe in the summer of 1984. Ever since, it has been one of the most in-demand Italo-disco 12" singles around (for proof, check the shockingly high price original copies sell for online). It has aged rather well, with arpeggio-heavy bottom end, cheery chords and insatiable synthesizer melody still capable of causing commotion on dancefloors. The flipside original version - effectively a dub, with significant re-arrangement - is, if anything, even better.
Review: Chris Garner, Jorg Burckhardt, Matthias Elvers, and Regina Petersen didn't release more than handful of EPs under the Peppermint guise, but what they did put out was as foundational and inspirational as more known electronic bands of the 80s like Liaisons Dangereuses. Dark Entries is responsible for this reissue, of course, a repress of an original going for near 100 bucks on the second-hand market, and this 1983 bomb has that rare characteristic of sounding retro and utterly fresh all at the same time. There's two mixes to the wonderfully wavy "Perfect High", and they both serve their own purpose; the radio edit, as you'd expect, is the one that gets the heads turning, its ominous bass charging menacingly amid the sweeter melodies and classic, new-romantic vocals, while the instrumental makes for the perfect beat companion to any serious cold wave DJ set.
Review: Those in the know regard Space Art as one of French electronic music's most under-appreciated acts. Active between 1978 and '81, Synthesizer obsessive Dominique Perrier and drummer Roger Rizzitelli were famed for releasing killer chunks of "cosmic pop", before performing them live wearing specially made silver space suits. "Nous Savons Tout", which was recorded and released in 1981, remains one of their most potent singles. Creepy, strange, hypnotic and undeniably cosmic, Perrier's trippy synth parts seemingly rise and fall over Rizzitelli's metronomic, proto-techno drums. Flipside "Melodie Moderne" has an altogether different feel, coming on like a pitched-down, cosmic disco take on the artier side of 1970s progressive rock.
Review: Having released over fifty records since their foundation back in 2009, Dark Entries use the widened exposure afforded by that excellent Patrick Cowley compilation released in the last quarter of 2013 as a springboard to launch a new dedicated 12" series. Retaining their archival approach, the first release focuses on the short-lived Italian act Victrola; formed as a four piece combo in Messina, Victrola slimmed down to the synthesizer and guitar-based duo Antonio "Eze" Cuscina and Carlo Smeriglio and moved to the fertile music scene growing in early 80s Florence. In 1983, the pair issued their one record-shaped contribution to the early 80s Italian synth scene in the shape of Maritime Tatami, a two-track 12? issued on the Electric Eye label. Recorded using the Roland TR303 and TR606 at a time when these models had only been made available, so this reissue of Maritime Tatami from Dark Entries offers a chance for people to assess a slice of analogue experimentation at its most nascent.
The Man From Colours (instrumental version) (6:43)
Review: This timeless and utterly singular slice of italo disco magic was bootlegged a little over a year ago, but Dark Entries have decided to reissue it properly, with a remastered set of tunes for maximum playback effect. The 1982 bombshell, originally out on Discomagic Records, goes by the name of "The Man From Colours", and it is a special track indeed, one that's full of romantic charm, mystery and plenty of proto-house vibes. Its vocals will be embedded in your mind forever upon first listen, and you get an instrumental cut on the flip, too. Highly recommended - DO NOT SLEEP.
Review: Unlike some of Dark Entries' Italo-disco reissues, Wish Key's "Orient Express" is fairly easy to come across on the second hand market. It is, though, no less alluring for that, and is most certainly worthy of the deluxe repress treatment. The Instrumental version, in particular - all relentless train noises, delay-laden drum machine solos and sparkling synthesizers - is absolutely killer. Wisely, Dark Entries has chosen to back it with three versions of Wish Key's 1986 single "Last Summer", an almost Balearic chunk of mid-tempo Italo-disco/synth-pop fusion. That, too, boasts a brilliant instrumental version - this time with a pleasingly glassy-eyed ambient build- up and a surprising Go Go Mix.
Review: Disco producer, synthesizer pioneer and Hi-NRG originator Patrick Cowley made a lot of highly sexual music. In fact, his muscular synth-disco productions were, for years, the soundtrack of choice in San Francisco's notorious bathhouse scene. It doesn't stop there, though. Unbeknownst to most disco aficionados, Cowley also provided experimental synthesizer tracks to soundtrack gay porn films between 1973 and 1981. Initially released on vinyl last year, School Daze has now been granted a CD edition by Dark Entries and gathers together the best of those productions. Arguably, the material here is amongst his best work. Free of the constraints of the dancefloor, Cowley let himself go, delivering avant garde synthesizer compositions that ranged from spaciously psychedelic ("Out of Body", like some lost Confused House record) and decidedly cosmic (the chugging "Journey Home"), to otherworldly and outlandish ("Zygote"). Recommended.
Review: Having previously impressed with their reissue of Patrick Cowley's brilliant, all-synthesizer soundtrack to obscure '70s gay porn flick School Daze, Dark Entries and Honey Sound System once again join forces to shine a light on the high energy disco pioneer's work for San Francisco's Fox Studios. Unsurprisingly, it's another impressive collection, and features material recorded for a number of different pornographic films. There are naturally more up-tempo moments - see "Somebody To Love Tonight", which would later be re-recorded with Sylvester, and the synth-weirdness-meets-jazz-funk brilliance of "5oz of Funk" - but it's the impressively cosmic and exotic ambient moments, such as the stand-out "Timelink" and "Jungle Magic", that really stand out.
Review: The final part of Dark Entries' long-running series of archival Patrick Cowley releases showcases tracks originally recorded for Afternooners, a late '70s gay porn film by director John Coletti. As with previous Cowley releases on Dark Entries, the double album also contains previously unheard material rediscovered from the Fox Studio archives. It's another essential collection of atmospheric synthesizer music in the producer's distinctive style, all told, with tracks ranging from the whistling cheeriness of "Hot Beach" and the sparkling, cowbell-laden throb of "One Hot Afternoon" to the dubbed-out, semi-ambient dreaminess of "Bore & Stroke" and the humid, upbeat "Jungle Orchid".