Whilst writing this review I was reminded of the scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian where the Judean People's Front... sorry, the People's Front of Judea are sat in their headquarters condemning the Roman Empire. Somewhat combatively John Cleese asks "And what have they ever given us in return?!" Well, in addition to the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health, the Italians are now responsible for giving us some decent house music.
But, Man Music Technology, the debut album from producer Stephano Fontano, is more than just house music. It's electro, it's hip hop, it's funk and it's breaks all rolled into a futuristic disco soundtrack for 2003. Like the man says, "It's the old school with the new school". And it's ace!
Having been influenced from an early age by the imported sounds of Chicago house, Detroit techno and hip hop, Stephano got in to DJing from an early age. His father bought him his first pair of Technics as a reward for passing his sound engineering diploma. The next decade was spent revising Italy's dubious relationship with dance music, obsessing over turntablism and breaking a few bones as a professional skater.
The results are a thrilling excursion of squelched synths, funky ass b lines, loping beats and some great vocals. "Da Symphony" is guilty on all counts with its Memphis brass stabs, bumping bass and soulful lilts, as is last years' single "Bizarre Mind" for that matter. Both are full force disctro house moments. Other highlights come in the form of the Della Reese-Lett sampling bedtime story "If Everybody In The World Loved Everybody In The World" and the funk-fuelled, hip hop jam "Way of Life" featuring Digital Underground on mic detail.
Italy's enthusiasm for house music has never been an issue yet it has never had a seminal release, one that would establish itself as a player on the international music scene. Until now. Occupying the parking space between Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx and Metro Area, Man Music Technology manages to embrace dance music's history with both authority and humour. Essential. --Christian Hopwood
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window