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Electric Independence

Diskokaine has got to be one of the worst names ever for a record label. Not only is disco spelt incorrectly, but the illegal drug cocaine is clearly referenced, and it is also spelt incorrectly.

John Davis “Sally Shapiro” Diskokaine Wolfram Diskokaine has got to be one of the worst names ever for a record label. Not only is disco spelt incorrectly, but the illegal drug cocaine is clearly referenced, and it is also spelt incorrectly. What kind of example are the people behind Diskokaine setting? Don’t they realise that many of their younger, impressionable fans will be studying English? What’s more, if the police find out about Diskokaine they could end up in serious trouble. After a tip-off, the drug squad could pay the label’s offices a visit on, say, a Friday night when everyone’s winding down with some refreshments after a tough week. All hell could break loose. Hopefully they’ll read this piece and act fast. I wish I’d thought to tell this to the MD of Diskokaine, an Austrian guy from Vienna named Wolfram, when he emailed me offering to send me his two new Diskokaine records. But it sounds like he already knows the score: the Austrian authorities are ruthless. I asked Wolfram, whose artist name is Marflow (that’s Wolfram backwards), if he’s ever been arrested. His English isn’t perfect (no surprise there). “Once I fought with my girlfriend really loudly and the police came and asked if I’d hit her ’cos the neighbours called them in fear of a chainsaw massacre next door,” he says. “I told them that we are just fistfucking. Nevertheless, I had to pay 80 fucking euros.” His conclusion? “In Austria, penetrating your own girl costs more than a hooker. Damn!” Strangely, Wolfram shows similar contempt for the music he releases, even though his three Diskokaine 12"s aren’t that bad. The first one, a trashy, stripped-down electro-disco collaboration between Wolfram and Princess Superstar called “Lick the Alphabet”, came out late last year. “I was already sick of it ’cos I heard it so often,” he says. “It’s just pop music and it doesn’t last long.” Their follow-up as Diskokaines, “Rock-a-Boogie”, is an addictive chugging jack track that features Legowelt’s Danny Wolfers on synth (always a bonus). “This one’s really bad,” insists Wolfram. “I recorded her vocals just with my laptop somewhere drunk in Mallorca. Danny played two minutes of synth over it. He’s got this small synth that’s like a Gameboy and runs with batteries so we recorded it straight into my old Powerbook and I sent it like it is to the pressing plant in the Czech Republic, who didn’t make it sound any better. But I can always say I wanted to imitate old Chicago and a bit of Ron Hardy’s disco flair. Whatever. The B-side reminds me of some stupid Fast Eddie crap and it sounds much better.” However, Wolfram doesn’t have a bad word to say about the latest Diskokaine, “I’ll Be By Your Side” by Sally Shapiro, probably because he didn’t produce it but also because in every respect it’s an utterly perfect slice of Italo synth-pop. Like all the classic Italo vocal productions from the early 80s, “Sally” only exists on paper—she’s actually a girl from Sweden, a friend of the record’s producer, Johan Agebjörn. With its naïve melody, slightly off vocal and analogue flavour, “I’ll Be By Your Side” evokes the melancholy feel of authentic Italo far more convincingly than, for example, Alden Tyrell. One of the B-sides, suitably titled “Overload”, is an insanely fruity hyper-melodic 8-bit synth odyssey by Agebjörn that recalls the soaring sci-fi instrumentals of Hypnosis and Koto. The other B-side, “Time to Let Go”, is as heartbreakingly good as “I’ll Be By Your Side”. The information on the inner label leads you to believe that it was made in 1983 in Italy. The inclusion of the web address——kind of contradicts that. Another new label dealing in exceptional electro music is London’s Citinite (, run by one of the capital’s unsung mixmasters, Manny Zambrano. It’s well worth downloading his two mixes from the site. The label’s first two releases are both out this month. “Cazelica” is a peculiar new six-track EP by US funk cat Robert O’Dell, who released on Rephlex a while ago and now sounds like Prince in a washing machine. His spooked, sax-spiked take on the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” is the sort of cover version that most musicians would keep to themselves, which somehow makes it seem rather magical. But it’s South Carolina dance veteran John Davis’ Flashcan album that seriously impresses. This is a nine-track compilation of electro cuts from some super-rare 12"s that Davis produced in 1984 when he lived in Germany, having been stationed there during his time in the US army. He later worked with Ice-T and Terry Lewis of The Time and in the 90s played with Babyface in Los Angeles. Flashcan contains some classic robo-funk jams and smooth soulful electro. With his serene Vocoder melodies and outrageous drum programming, Davis comes across like a mellower Egyptian Lover, and in tracks such as “Cyborg 203” and the tear-stained elegance of “Dream Six-0”, he’s produced a couple of future lost classics, or is that lost future classics? You get the idea. With two of the biggest names in vintage and contemporary electro also scheduled to release new material on Citinite later this year, Manny Zambrano ought to be smiling. A date for the diary: on Thursday, July 6, Cocadisco and Paris’ Dirty Soundsystem—the dudes behind those marvellous Dirty Diamonds compilations—host an evening called Bombe Surprise at this great new venue, 43 South Molton (43 South Molton Street, off Bond Street, London W1. Expect incredible music and a superstar special guest. Free entry. PIERS MARTIN