Inhabiting the murky world of underground dance music as I do, the genre that continues to influence is disco. It’s now been several years of edits, reworks and remixes – some of which are standout and some are not. Just when I think the re-edit is done with, some clever clogs will pop up with a fresh take on a classic. Check out Late Nite Tuff Guy’s “I’m The Man Who Loves U” who makes this supergroup sound deep, cut up and funky while keeping the sweetest of melodies.
At the same time there’s continued and renewed interest in original tunes. Horse Meat Disco tour the world playing nothing but original disco at festivals and top clubs everywhere, plus many a house or techno DJ will drop disco into a set. There’s a myriad of articles about why disco remains important and still relevant on the dancefloor, so I wont go over that except to say that there’s an abandonment and freedom that much electronic dance music doesn’t quite allow.
Enter Escort, the 17-piece disco orchestra from Brooklyn, NYC. Over the last 5 years, some have stopped sampling and reinterpreting and started making their own disco true to the roots. You’ll hear live instrumentation, song structure, melody, lyrics and groove. Hercules & Love Affair were one of the first groups, but have since moved into a house sensibility. Escort have not and produce music that sits alongside original disco. It doesn’t blend with anything from 2012 and stands proudly apart as art of a different kind.
They’ve had some underground success with a couple of 12” but recently completed and released their first album. In the process they’ve honed their live act and what a cracker it is. I’ve seen Chic, Sunburst Band, Hercules & Love Affair and many soul bands (who skirt disco) and Escort are up there with the best. They’re incredibly tight, very funky and a little jazzy. Their set consisted of the early singles and tracks from the album plus a couple of covers “There But For the Grace of God” and an amazing cover of Gino Soccio’s “Dancer”. The latter perfectly suited to Escorts horn section and three vocalists. It was one of those gigs where there was little break between songs, not much banter and no slow jams. A proper party. My only criticism, if I had to have one, was that I’d love to have heard some extended workouts and breakdowns.
Tunes: Cocaine Blues, All Through the Night, A Bright New Life
Final word: Hands down my favourite live gig of the last 12 months.