Giorgio Moroder “Déjà Vu”
It would be fair to say, some reviewers have approached this album with trepidation. There’s been a palpable fear that perhaps the 74 year old pioneer and father of electronic disco would fling himself, unrestrained, at the sound of his emulators, those young bucks who learned everything they know from him (even if they don’t know it).
This was true for my two colleagues, who were slated to write this review, and who both mysteriously jumped ship at the last minute… (birthdays to go to, concerts they must attend…).
True expectations are pretty high for this, the first solo album of Hansjörg „Giorgio“ Moroders in 30 years. But the yardstick is that high because the man’s reputation was built on some epic tracks, „Love To Love You Baby“ and „I Feel Love“ (Donna Summer), the massive movie soundtracks he composed and of course Blondie’s „Call Me“ and – more recently – his involvement in Daft Punk’s „Random Access Memories“.
Fair enough. But a subtler reviewer looks beyond, remember, this man also produced a bunch of World Soccer Cup- and Olympic Games hymns. Just sayin’: „Reach Out for the Medal“ (1984, featuring Paul Engemann), „Hand in Hand“ (1988, Koreana) and „Un estate Italia“ from 1990, delivered from the capacious lungs from Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato.
So with this potential for an emotional roller coaster acknowledged, are you ready for „Déjà Vu“? Brace yourselves…
First single, also called „Déjà Vu“, features Sia as a guest singer – and the result is, well, awful. Commercial radio pop with fake happy-happy feelings. But leaving this aside and in neat contrast to the guest-singers-overkill aspect of last week’s Kaput-Record-of-the-Week (Hudson Mohawke), actually these visitors to planet Moroder are mostly helpful guests. It definitely feels like they add a bit of direction, a bit of sparkle and focus, particularly on tracks that were in danger of entering an infinite space-disco-intoxication… Why do I think so? Well, listen to the instrumentals on the album and you hear my point. Those sound like Daft Punk without Daft Punk.
The voices of young fellows like Mikky Ekko or Matthew Koma give Moroder’s actions some steadiness and orientation – although the power ballad with Ekko is still tough-going. And the collaboration with Britney Spears (you read that right), who steps up to cover, erm, Suzanne Vega’s „Tom’s Diner“, is… well, ask me in a few years, I’m still processing that one..
Giorgio’s non-stop-feelgood-party-dancing-inferno (sorry, but quick hat-tip to James Last – RIP) works a lot better with disco-queen Kylie Minogue, even if he did give her voice a little bit too much auto-tune on „Right Here, Right Now“ – but still, this is what I call an A1-Disco-Track. Also the songs with Charli XCX („Diamonds“) and Kelis „Back and Forth“ are smashers, and „Wildstar“ with Foxes just about makes it into the dance category.
Summary: „I Feel Love“, World Soccer Championship songs of the 80s, Disco-fox, Britney Spears. Put it all together and you’ve got to admit beauty and horror are sometimes quite close neighbours. Sure you don’t want to shout this out loud as it may sound too much of a stereotpye. But don’t worry, just do it! That’s how Giorgio rolls!