Various Artists Future Disco 8: Nighttime Networks
James Zabiela, Tuff City Kids and Rob Basejam contribute to the latest installment of the long-running series.
Naming your mix-CD compilation series Future Disco probably made a lot of sense when the premiere installment came out way back in 2009. Those were the heady days of the nu-disco movement, when the idea of cross-pollinating house, Balearic-tinged rhythms and glitterball beats still seemed shiny and new. (Never mind that the sound had basically been around since…well, since disco producers first discovered drum machines, which was a long time ago.) But that’s all beside the point, as the “disco” half of the moniker always seemed more of a suggestion than a rule—tracks like the subdued Koze remix of Mount Kimbie’s “Made to Stray” (from last year’s Future Disco 7) or Bot’ox’s “Blue Steel” (from 2010’s third edition) have a pretty tenuous connection with what most people traditionally think of as disco, anyway. The only thing that matters is if the compilations are any good—and if you’re at all into warm, moderately paced four-to-the-floor grooves with a generally optimistic feel, than the Future Disco series has been very good indeed. (Fans of, say, Lustmord might have a differing opinion.)
From the outset, it’s clear that Future Disco 8, released on the Needwant label, will not disappoint: Opener “Your Life,” from Australian producer Andras Fox, is a treat, its synapse-ticking chords and gentle orchestral stabs getting the mix started with a dose of warm-breeze-in-the-bright-sun cheer. The Tuff City Kids Acid Over remix of the Working Elite’s “Freedom” anchors dollops of lilting 303 bleeps with a percolating bassline and modulated piano; the James Zabiela version of Hot Chip’s “How Do You Do,” one of the more somber and grander tracks of the mix, marries spacious cathedral chords to its syncopated kick and claps; and Rob Basejam’s “Dippin’ In” is the kind of dream-state roller-skating jam that, to quote the great Vaughn Mason, will make you wanna “rock left, rock right, to the end of the groove.”
There are a few cuts that might divide listeners. Johnny Blake’s breathy voice on the Chopstick & Johnjon mix of Zoot Woman’s “Don’t Tear Yourself Apart” might annoy those averse to preciousness, for instance, though there’s little denying the beauty of the track’s cascading synths. Likewise, the vocals on the Gardens of Love remix of Vimes’s “Celestial” hue a little to close to Chris Martin’s oeuvre (definitely not a good thing)—though again, the song itself is utterly gorgeous. But those are minor complaints—this is a gem of a set, one that we think transcends categories, disco or otherwise. Bonus: a second CD with stand-along versions of some of the mix’s best tunes.