Hercules And Love Affair may be a party, it may be a disco, but it sure ain't no foolin' around.
In the first Hot Press of 2008, DFA artist Shit Robot volunteered Hercules And Love Affair as his band to watch this year. Intrigued by the Robot’s recommendation, I duly checked out Herc and was smitten straight away. New York DJ Andrew Butler’s appropriation of classic disco and Chicago house sounds was inspired, and suggested that DFA head honchos James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy had unearthed another brilliant act to add to their already mightily impressive roster.
Now we have Butler’s debut LP, which – perhaps because the disco influence gives the record an accessible feel – has avoided the underground ghettoisation usually afforded DFA artists to become one of the most anticipated albums of the year so far. The superb opening track, ‘Time Will’, sets the tone, masterfully blending the bassline from Frankie Knuckles’ unforgettable ‘Your Love’ with spacey sound effects and a beautifully fragile vocal from Antony Hegarty.
The following number, ‘Hercules Theme’, is a particularly intoxicating brew; a classic disco mix of string stabs, walking octave bassline, parping brass and hissing hi-hats. My personal favourite on the album is ‘Athene’, a sublime slice of hypnotic disco with vocals from Hawaiian native and lesbian jewellery designer Kim Ann Foxman (along with the transsexual Nomi, another in Butler’s wonderfully flamboyant cast of singers).
Antony again delivers an exquisitely melancholy vocal over the house rhythms of ‘Blind’, whilst Foxman (who is an absolute vocal deadringer for the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser) sings angelically on the gorgeous downtempo track ‘Iris’. Elsewhere, ‘Easy’ is a further exercise in chilled-out, Beloved-style ambience, ‘Raise Me Out’ a vintage house workout and the closing ‘True False/Fake Real’ a beguiling mix of danceable grooves and surreal sonic weirditude.
My favourite album of the year to date, Hercules And Love Affair may be a party, it may be a disco, but it sure ain’t no foolin’ around.
Key track: ‘Athene’