I have been looking for an opportunity to write about the Dutch duo Elitechnique for quite some time now. They were one of the first “nu-disco” groups that I heard back in 2007, as I was getting ready to move to a new city.
In the process of reaching my geographical destination, I felt that I’d struck a gold mine; I just couldn’t believe how much of this stuff that I liked. One of the tracks that I regularly listened to was Jupiter Black’s “We Like Moroder,” which Elitechnique had made a fantastic remix of. I also soon bought Elitechnique’s Finger Food EP which became the soundtrack of my tram trips across the city, peak-hour platform changes, and afternoon walks around the industrial part of town, where I was living.
It’s a few years on, and I am still interested in their music and have spent a bit of time reading up on them, chasing some of their side projects, and discovering why their dance music has that extra dimension to it.
In real life, Remco De Jong and Florentijn Boddendjik compose music and design soundscapes for Dutch theatre groups like the national Toneelgroep Amsterdam (a good example of their work here) and Theater Artemis. As well as having their music used in a Broadway play last year, they’ve also been involved in some crazy guerilla stuff around Amsterdam, like this project, Italo Maiden — all of which gives an insight into their dynamic, “cinematic” sound.
And their latest EP, Intrusion, captures all of this; a collection of eight tracks that fit together like scenes from a play.
A year in the making, the duo have created a distinctive theme that shifts from one track to the next, rendered orchestrally in one moment, and then floating through bubbling acid in the next,filtered finally through a Tubular Bells-like piano piece (complete with far away thunder claps). Those with a keen ear will notice that they have built their opening track “Grand Entrance” on the Blade Runner theme (a reoccurring interest of their work), as well as quoting the sweeping arpeggios from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo – which places this release squarely in the world of cinema.
Elitechnique use a massive arsenal of techniques — key changes, shifts in pitch, chromatic climbs, string portamento — to build their rich musical landscape; and the pinnacle of this release is “Hotel Cosmos”, a vibrant energy building track with a sudden big-top circus turn-around, designed to trigger an avalanche of endorphins.
Give it a whirl, and you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Raising the Roof: Elitechnique play live at the Hotel Cosmos in Moscow
Night With You: One of two impromptu clips created for Electrick Dragon’s release
The other release I wanted to talk about that has just come out is Space Connection from Electrick Dragon.
Hailing from the same city as Elitechnique, Rotterdam, Electrick Dragon has also shared vinyl space with Elitechnique on the Moustache Records EP You Can Trust a Man with a Moustache Vol. 1, as well as releasing his own four track EP on the same label.
The man behind Electrick Dragon, Rick van Breugel (also known as Ricky Da Dragon) is a well-known DJ and music producer in Holland who started DJing at age 12, and who witnessed the impact of disco, early eighties funk and new wave in Europe. He has a strong interest in house and soul music, and has recorded his own music over the last few decades under a number of aliases, among them, remix work with Maurits Paardekoper as the duo Exposure in the early nineties. His long list of credits also includes updating the anthem of his local soccer club via some remix work.
In recent years, van Breugel noticed that some of his younger friends in the Rotterdam dance scene like David Vunk and Seutek were beginning to collect italo disco records which inspired him to start-up Electrick Dragon and make music drawing on the sound of this era. It would soon turn out that David Vunk would be the first to release his Electrick Dragon music after launching Moustache Records in 2007.
From a technical point of view, Electrick Dragon is relying only on the Digital Audio Workstation REASON to create his tracks, with no external analogue synths, or outboard gear, like many of the other italo artists; but with a wealth of experience, van Bruegel is easily able to innovate on the italo disco sound, creating bouncy, highly addictive, dance floor friendly music.
This time it is the English label Cyber Dance to release his second major EP (Cyber Dance is the recording arm of Magic Waves, a radio show broadcast on the inimitable Intergalactic FM). Space Connection features the great “Night With You” which is already up on youtube with a couple of clips created for it (the anime one above, and a NSFW version). This is music designed to be heard through a PA at nightclubs, and would appeal to anyone listening, not just lovers of italo.
As far as availability goes for both of these releases, Intrusion is available on special vinyl and as a digital release through Clone records; Space Connection is distributed by Juno records and is also on vinyl and as a digital download.
But you can also listen to both releases here on soundcloud first: