Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

The debut of New York DJ Andrew Butler's dance project could be simply an exercise in genre revivalism, referencing as it does the disco of the 1970s and 80s and giving occasional nods to early house. It echoes Arthur Russell at times, and employs, among others, the familiar vocals of Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons fame. Technically, it is an amalgamation of many sounds gone before. And yet it exists in its own universe, somehow sounding as unique as such a catchy record possibly could.

The unlikely combination of disco beats with Antony's melancholy vocals and a sackful of new ideas helps to create what is more an evolution of its influences than pure nostalgia. The use of contemporary electronic production and live instrumentation brings everything forward to a place where Studio 54 is but a distant memory. At times minimalist and spare but never monotonous or predictable, the songs swell and change from bridge to chorus via unexpected twists.

Butler himself provides many of the vocals, complemented by Antony, Kim Ann Foxman and Nomi Ruiz, giving the album the feel of an eclectic dance collective playing to its strengths track by track. The sound may take some instruction from the classic dance music of Butler's childhood, but the lyrics and songwriting possess an intelligence not usually synonymous with glitterballs and Saturday Night Fever.

Highlights include opener 'Time Will', floor filler 'True False/Fake Real' and the understated 'Iris', which uses Foxman's sad, resigned vocals to great effect. And then there's 'Blind', the first single release. Rarely does such a danceable, beat-laden and pulsating track have the effect of dragging you on a life-affirming journey through euphoria, misery and reflection while sending stone cold chills through your spine. Listen at high volume and accept no tinny laptop speakers.

Best tracks: Time Will, True False/Fake Real, Blind

Alexis Somerville

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