My favourite celebrated dance floor eras are always where experimentation took place. Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage wasn’t ever just about disco. Larry was famous for playing The Clash next to D-Train, art-funk from Grace J the Who’s Eminence Front (ever since my favourite track from them), Ron Hardy at The Muzic Box would champion Italo disco and tape loop edits of funk and disco which was the spark which created the very first House records out of Chicago. Daniele Baldelli’s Cosmic in northern Italy took an even more radical approach by slowing hi energy pop records from bands like Kissing The Pink and Altered Images to 33rpm and mixing them up with German synth music, Afro rhythms and anything else which would fit to create a sound unlike any other. At Amnesia in Ibiza, DJs Alfredo and Leo Mas would play alternative sounds like The Woodentops and Liaisons Dangereuses alongside Jamie Principle and Mandy Smith to create the first wave of Balearic Beat. It’s the freedom and genre hopping which makes it interesting and allows new ideas to happen. This album would certainly suit that notion. Disco (not disco)? leftfield dance? call it what you like. It’s just not generic and that will always appeal to me.
Julie Ann Campbell is Lonelady, a multi instrumentalist Manchester art graduate with a penchant for that alternative spirit on the dance floor. Her blues is the concrete and rain of her town, but it’s not miserablist in any way. Moody yes, but not depressing. I’ve been playing the single Groove It Out in clubs and at parties for a couple of months now and it’s been causing a noticeable stir. Within the sound of Hinterland, her second album, I can hear ESG, A Certain Ratio, Tom Tom Club and Material with less obvious flavours like Tango In The Night era Fleetwood Mac, Joy Division and Madonna all revealing themselves whether they’re deliberate or not. It’s a shimmering transmission littered with post-punk dance floor manoeuvres and it’s growing on me more and more. Into The Cave combines scratchy dischordant guitar with a live disco beat and a vocal urgency not unlike The Bush Tetras swimming in subterranean reverb and uncomfortable synth drones. It’s a promising start. Bunkerpop, the current single, is Devo flailing awkwardly in New York Noise but better, while the album’s title track (meaning ‘the country left behind’) steadies the vibe with the album’s most polished pop moment. Campbell’s voice sounding like a folky much cooler Madonna while the music is an accomplished alt-funk jam embellished by choppy guitar, what sounds like a cello and a Fripp-esque shrieking solo adding to the compelling mash.
At first, Groove It Out may sound like an obvious call to dance but the lyrics suggest a deeper meaning. “I touch a mirror and go inwards” leads the inquisition. It’s light on it’s feet and full of simple compressed hooks all nagging sweetly at your feet and heart. (I Can See) Landscapes brings to mind Gang Of Four fronted by Bjork while Silvering is pure Joy Division with the white girl funk dial set to 9.5. On Flee, we say ‘see ya’ to the beats and sink into a reflective drone where the moody grain of Manchester meets Eno on a mellotron tram while we stare at the rain and lights through the window. Red Scrap flaunts short melodic guitar harmonics and catchy phrasing and album closer Mortar Remembers You has a more ‘rock’ in approach with Andy Gill’s rhythmic plectrum influence shining on through.