Disco Inferno were an incredibly creative but short-lived band who splurged out a series of excellent records in the early 90s before disappearing in a haze of smoke before they could get the full credit they deserved. They were fond of an EP and this release collects five of these mini-masterpieces showcasing how their sound had evolved from atmospheric Joy Division-esque beginnings to their later hugely influential sampledelic innovations. Stunning and deeply affecting music.
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I'm not one for looking back usually. Neither were Disco Inferno. They were the true futurists of the 1990's, a band so forward thinking that it is rumoured that Rough Trade kept funding their releases despite a shocking lack of sales as they were convinced that they were to be the 'Can of the '90s', ie. a band generally ignored during their lifetime but over the years rediscovered and properly evaluated by the next generation. From the noises emerging out of the webosphere over the past year or so, they were bang on the money.
This fabulous compilation is surely the best place to start if you want to get a handle of what Disco Inferno were all about. It compiles (as you might guess) all their five EPs which with one exception were all non-album tracks yet so high in quality that it almost...almost is superior in quality to any of their full length albums. After a brilliant if Joy Division like early album, Disco Inferno took the quick decision to drop their guitars and pick up samplers. This is the crux of the phrase 'post rock' when it was first coined by Simon Reynolds to describe bands using rock and non-rock instrumentation to create something a little more non linear. In effect what we have here is a New Order who after 'Blue Monday' stopped funding the Hacienda and put their money to better use, moving indie rock on somewhat past verse chorus structures and traditional guitar, bass, drums instrumentation.
The opener 'Summer's Last Sound' defines this approach. It starts with birdsong (it took two weeks to programme according to the liner notes), strummed, heavily effected guitars, driving bass and no drum kit as such, just clattering programmed percussion and the sound of water. The lyrics talk of an England so washed up that the narrator barely recognises it as his home country. Sound familiar? Elsewhere they come close to a traditional pop song with 'A Rock To Cling To' yet still it's wonderfully out there with lyrics about a fear of water, the music punctuated by terrifying whale call noises. 'The Last Dance' is a pure New Order lost hit but compared with what came after it sounds almost twee. The insane 'DI Go Pop' takes the scattershot machine gun sample approach of the album of the same name to almost histrionic brain mashing effect. After such incendiary music there's nothing left to do but calm down and it was then that DI released one of their finest records 'Second Language' EP, which featured clear Vini Reilly guitar lines, discernable lyrics, supremely melodic chord structures, 'At the End of the Line' particularly is a classic in miniature which simply must be heard.
You can almost hear the moment where Disco Inferno started to lose it a little. It comes halfway through the bonkers 'Lust For Life' sampling 'It's a Kids World' where The Farm like guitars (no, really) mix with the Doctor Who theme and trite children's TV themes incongruously appear. Its a little too much novelty. Yet who can blame them, here was a band battered, bruised. Driving themselves further to create the new sounds that could shape the future. And all the while the music press ignoring these glorious sounds and were instead were telling us all about S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men. Well fuck the lot of them.
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