Black Devil Disco Club, 28 After

Todd Burns

By Todd Burns

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The world of electronic music is known for secrecy. Producers adopt numerous pseudonyms for their varied output, artists guard their methods of music-making under lock and key, and posing as something you're not is the norm — not the exception. Hell, most people believed that Richard D. James drove a tank around London in the mid ’90s. (Oh, wait.) Maybe that's why it's so hard to believe that Black Devil Disco Club could simply be what it seems to be: an offshoot of legendary electro-disco duo Black Devil, 28 years after they made their solitary, cult-favorite record (titled, somewhat confusingly, Disco Club).

The return (?) of a disco great, 28 years in the making

But, in the face of all available evidence, it makes sense: These songs do sound as though they were made in time capsule — by someone who hasn't bothered to engage with dance music since he (ostensibly) gave it up in the late ’70s: former Black Devil member Bernard Fevre. Few current producers would dream of upsetting “I Regret the Flower Power” with a sitar solo or singing nonsense syllables over the Moroderized groove. In fact, slightly off-kilter vocal moments are legion here: Fevre goes underwater on “The Devil in Us,” doubles his voice on “Coach Me” to sound like Alan Vega in a duet with Antony and tries his hand at divadom on closer, “On Other Skin.”

The music is similarly strange, if grounded in the sort of Italo-disco made famous by mavens of cheese like Charlie and Ken Laszlo and currently practiced/feted by Legowelt and the Environ label. But the (black) devil is in the details: listen closely to each track and you'll hear more going on than your average sterile computer production. This is hand-crafted disco at its finest. But can we really be sure whose hand made it?