Elaste: Slow Motion Disco
An original Discoteca Cosmic flyer
Mooner on some cosmic safari
Although it’s not quite been done to death, there’s only so much to say about the continuing vogue in dance for rehashing and re-editing cosmic disco and flipped-out space-rock before you start to sound like a bearded bore with an eBay addiction and a signed photo of DJ Harvey in your Gucci wallet. Trouble is, there’s still stacks of amazing new music in this vein coming out, such as Radio Slave’s
Creature of the Night
mix on Eskimo and Quiet Village’s remixes of Cosmo Vitelli’s “Delayer” and Grandadbob’s “Pictures”, not to mention everything on the Permanent Vacation label and Goblin fetishists Zombi’s fantastic “Digitalis” EP on Static Caravan that sold out in about five seconds. The weirder the better, in fact, and in many ways it doesn’t get much stranger than the place where it all started: at the Discoteca Cosmic by Lake Garda in northern Italy in 1979.
This was the club where for five years its ambitious young resident DJ Daniele Baldelli mesmerised dancers with some seriously trippy sets and invented a new style of DJing that spread across the continent. Google his name and you’ll eventually find a site where you can download his sets. As it happens, our switched-on friend from Munich, DJ Mooner, who runs sparky electro label Erkrankung Durch Musique, has compiled a wonderful album for Compost called
Elaste: Slow Motion Disco
that features 11 rare and not-so-rare-but-just-crazy Baldelli favourites by the likes of Chris & Cosey, Doctor’s Cat, The Rah Band and Heaven 17. We spoke to Mooner about the kids who would flock to Cosmic to catch their hero.
Vice: Did these clubbers go to other clubs or were they loyal to Cosmic?
Mooner: Okay, first some history. Cosmic was really the first club that left the path of disco and Baldelli created something completely different: a mix of funk, disco on 33 instead of 45 rpm, German electronic avant-garde, new wave, Brazil, jazz… So word had to spread around first. When Cosmic closed in 1984, a bunch of similar clubs popped up like mushrooms. The biggest or most important one after the Cosmic was Club Typhoon, were DJ Loda played. But at the beginning, Cosmic was the only place where you could hear good music. You couldn’t buy any of this anywhere in Italy. The DJs drove to Switzerland and France to buy records. So I guess it was THE hotspot.
Was there a name for this gang of revellers?
The clubbers didn’t have a name but there were several gangs of drug dealers. One of them was called Los Duros. Hash and LSD were popular but heroin was a big problem.
And the kids all had the same kind of car, right?
First of all, the rich kids drove the Citroën DS or other Citroëns, like the Pallas. The rest tried to get a Renault 4. Also, the Citroën 10 was in there sometimes. The cars were full of Cosmic stickers that were sold at the club. A famous Italian rally driver even stuck one on his race-car.
Were they all quite wealthy, middle-class kids?
Man, I didn’t do any sociocultural studies, I was 12 years old in 1984. But I think at Cosmic the audience changed to basically working-class kids mixed with new wave hipsters and German tourists. The guys wore
, Wrangler jeans and Clarks and the girls dressed like hippies. Baldelli wore a white one-piece jumpsuit. And long hair was still totally cool.
What did they all like about this music?
I think what really kicked it off is that Baldelli really only did what he wanted and didn’t care. So everyone was like, “Did you go to Cosmic last night and check out this weirdo sound and everyone was on drugs!?” Also, back then it was the only vaguely alternative thing happening in a 200 kilometre radius.
Yes. I think that the music is kind of timeless. The beauty is that it’s playful and harmonic, and the atmosphere is much more important than a certain musical style. Superstar DJs of today know fuck all about mixing. Those old school Italians mixed with three Technics SP15s or old Denons that didn’t even have proper pitch adjustment and the records were all untight!
Why do you think it’s in fashion now?
Because in the 2000s nobody has any new ideas.
Except, of course, they do. Over the last few years, Norwegian disco deity Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has made one very good idea go a very long way, which is why he’s currently in his Oslo studio thinking up some new ways to seduce his muse. “I’m a real instrument freak and I just bought some steel drums and a reel-to-reel tape recorder so let’s see what happens,” he says.
It’s A Feedelity Affair
, an essential CD compilation of Lindstrøm’s vinyl-only singles for his Feedelity label, is out this month on Norwegian super-indie Smalltown Supersound. You have to get it, if only for the track “Music (In My Mind)”. “The good thing with this compilation,” he says, “is that although it only spans three years from 2003-2006 it kind of marks a new start for me. It’s always nice to sum up and then start from scratch.”
Vice: Okay, but have you ever been in a gang?
Lindstrøm: I guess I’ve been in gangs all the time. When you meet somebody who has the same kind of interest as you, you become part of a gang or scene. But I’m not like the criminal type into violent gangs.
Isn’t there some kind of international disco gang going on right now with you and Prins Thomas and Rub’n’Tug and labels like Whatever We Want, Rong, Bearfunk, things like that?
To be honest, I really don’t like to be a part of something and I’m not sure I like all this gang kind of stuff. Thing is, when you’re included in a gang and in a community you are being protected and feel really safe inside, and I’m not sure if I like that. I like to be on the outside. When lots of people are doing the same stuff it gets boring.
You can’t deny that there’s a scene, though.
Of course. And it’s important that there are more people doing this sound and it’s important to have more and more people getting into it. But at the same time I’m always trying to break out.