Disco Inferno - 5 EPs - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Disco Inferno - 5 EPs

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2011-09-19

Disco Inferno anyone? Who? I hear you say. Yeah, I have to admit they completely passed me by in the early 90s while I had my head in the baggy era that engulfed my 20s.

So who are Disco Inferno? Well, they originally piped up as a four-piece in the least likely of experimental musical areas - Essex. They were not renowned for having any critical success which probably culminated in their demise and they pulled the curtain down in less than Take That proportions in 1995. The exit door wasn't too kind to them but they have been fortunate enough to have their 5 EPs gleefully exhumed on One Little Indian in 2011.

Pulling in an array of samples and eclectic instruments, the band enlisted a tiding of magpies while grouping ambience and post-rock as their key influences. What is rather staggering throughout the 15 tracks here is how damn catchy their songs are. 'The Last Dance' could easily of been born from the 90s summer of love with its hypnotic driving beat, quirky keyboards and bright, chiming guitar.

In the early 90s, the influence of the NME was key to a band's success. New Fast Automatic Daffodils (Dod bless 'em!) even said they would have been bigger if the paper had paid them more attention. You can't help think that the same fate befell Disco Inferno as their avant garde approach was shunned in favour of such acts as My Jealous God. They have their post-punk influences; 'DI Goes Pop' is the bastard offspring of Cabaret Voltaire with its fuzzed-up keys and metronomic beats but 'The Long Dance' sounds like Technique era New Order with its polish and slick production.

The band's love of feral samples drifts in and out throughout the 5 Eps, such as a revving motorcycle being stuck in a cyclic loop on 'Scattered Showers'. The hypnotic ambient comedown of 'Second Language' is a slow-burning beauty and the klink-clank, tightly wound abrasive guitar is turned up to 12 as it scythes in and out like something off a Gang of Four album.

DI never feared the opportunity to experiment and you can hear how they have influenced such modern day psychedelic acts as Animal Collective and, in parts, Mogwai, demonstrated on the 'The Athiest's Burden'. What is uncanny is that a band with such progressive ideas has been so influential considering how little commercial success they had at their peak. Maybe they suffered for their own aesthetic at the time or simply their music was not seen as being of the right time and for the ears of Joe Public.

Ian Crause's sparse spoken vocals rarely seem like they are anything to do with the music, as if they were left over on the tape from a previous recording. Throughout 5 EPs, his narrative style remains low in the mix, such as on the likes of 'It's a Kids World' with its slowed down drum sample nicked from Iggy's 'Lust for Life'. Edith Piaf even makes an appearance ('A Night on the Tiles') among a cack of noisy school kids as her vocal is looped round a free-form jazz thumpathon which wouldn't sound out of place on The Muppet Show. It's quirky, unusual and quite literally a blast to listen to.

'Lost in the Fog' is an eerie piece of post-rock to close proceedings but it's a joyous end to this band's wonderful posthumous collection. If you didn't pick up on them originally then you've no excuse not to delve into their wonderments and admire the craft and guile of one special, woefully obscure and forgotten band second time round.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • Great review - I was going to do this as but you beat me to it

    I loved Disco Inferno, I managed to catch them late 1993 and they sounded like nothing else and were so breathtakingly original and upbeat - such a pity they imploded on bad terms

    They deserve the sort of recognition and reappraisal that Talk Talk are (deservedly) getting these days and I'll keep on djing 'It's a Kid's World' and confusing everyone that they think they gonna be dancing to Iggy Pop

  • What a timely rediscovery this is! Having fallen in love with their music back in 1994 (DI Go Pop, then backtracking to pick up their EPs) and being pissed off at the lack of recognition they were afforded before their untimely and sudden split in early 1995 after seeing them supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees (of all people!), I quietly campaigned with their then record company RT to issue their swansong album Technicolour - and it did eventually come out in late 96..... such was the utter passion I reserved for this band back then.

    The amazing thing is, 15 years later - 20 if you realise that their first releases were in 1991 - they still sound like nothing else on earth: a true mark of their maverick genius.

    At that time - the early 90s, and pre-Britpop rubbish - the UK underground was a fertile ground for these singularly inventive bands who shared one common aesthetic: to redefine the parameters of pop/rock/electronic/experimental. I was hooked on bands such as DI, Stereolab, Pram, Seefeel, Bark Psychosis, Moonshake, Laika, Movietone, Plone....all of whom were just a refreshing antidote to the generic dullness of the prevailing plodding indie blandness that surrounded them.

    Some of these acts (Moonshake and Laika especially, seeing as they shared personnel after the former split in half) were just as creative as DI in the use of samples and loops, and this is what kind of brings them all together and makes their records so compulsively addictive and enjoyable even after all these years.

    These records have never sounded dated because they come from - and indeed belong in - a truly different dimension / space time continuum, one where trends and fads are utterly irrelevant. It's great to see bands like DI getting their due in such a way, no matter how belated, as I too had been spreading the word about their greatness to anybody who would listen back then, and it's so gratifying to see that some discerning pop-pickers are beginning to see the light at last!

  • Always nice when one of your favourite bands gets some recognition, even if it's just so you can say, 'I told you so' to those that rely on radio or press, instead of looking for good music themselves.

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