From the late sixties to the mid-eighties, Italian producer Giorgio Moroder was not only a prolific and omnipresent pioneer, his job occupation could metaphorically extend to a farmer – planting seeds of inspiration and the nucleus of genres (synth disco, hi-RNG, house; to name a few) – and an oracle foretelling the sound of the future with the world’s first digital record (E=MC²) and the ambitious futuristic sound of Donna Summer‘s ‘I Feel Love’. Moroder vaporized out of the music spotlight for 28 years, until admirers Daft Punk interviewed him for a monologue documentary song ‘Giorgio by Moroder’, where the multi-linguist spoke about the disco era and provided philosophical words about “freeing your mind” in the production process. It featured on Daft Punk‘s critically-acclaimed 2013 album Random Access Memories – which was created with the improvisation methodology of Giorgio Moroder- and brought the celebrated producer to a new generation, subsequently followed by a global tour. Now that he’s got the youth’s attention, can he really make an impact with his first album of new material for 30 years? Was it worth him resurrecting out of retirement and risking his already highly accomplished career?
The signs looked initially positive with the first single ’74 Is The New 24′. Randomly placed in the centre of the LP rather than the sensible beginning, it possessing a title that’s not only encouraging for aging DJs, it’s also Moroder-esque, as it suggests a new social order. The robotic vocoder technique filtering his voice is idiosyncratic and like tracks from his electronic peak From Here to Eternity, it evolves with energy, movement and mystique. A light-cycle workout anthem designed by the ENCOM mainframe cyberspace from the movie Tron. A whole album of this magnitude, motivation and style would have been nourishing but unfortunately, the rest of the album travels into a less fascinating realm of predictability and boredom. By the end of the album (if you get there), you’ll completely forget that it’s a Girogio Moroder, for his lack of identifiable fingerprints.
There’s no denying it’s contemporary, by recruiting vocalists Charlie XCX, Sia, Mikky Echo, Foxes, he attempts to connect with a new audience, but Moroder’s role in music was always of the forward-thinker instead of the crowd-follower. It would have been beneficial if he’d continue down that mentality’s tunnel, further establishing his power. Despite already working with big names in the past (Freddy Mercury, Debbie Harry etc.), the chart-topping selection of collaborators seems to be based on star status rather than appropriate personality. Although the results aren’t always dreadful and he manages to bring out new qualities of acts such as Kylie Minogue in ‘Right Here Right Now’, why take the chance? Why not focus on developing one act or working with musicians with the same imagination within their genres? Like a James Blake (post dub step), a Yukimi Nagano (Electric Soul) or Anthony Hagerty (chamber pop)? Whether out of fear or desperation, he seems to have chosen the high publicity route without any thoughtful invention, resulting in an album that’s easily forgettable and unrecognizable. An assemblage of tracks that are more likely to predict next year’s Eurovision Song Contest’s entries rather than an inspirational set of sonic masterpieces.
However, the album isn’t completely drenched in EDM’s yawn and fans of the rising force of Nile Rodgers disco-funk and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ will find something to savor. Apart from ‘Right Here Right Now’, elements are found of ‘La Disco’ (among the pounding bassline and irritating supermarket keyboards), Déjà Vu (among the Abba-light high hats) and ‘Tempted’ (sounding like a reject from Maroon 5’s pop transformation with the vocal delivery from Spice Girls’ ‘Say You’ll be There’). ‘Wildstar’ is a rare highlight for it’s homage to disco, nostalgic strings and BeeGees essence of fun, although it highlights the problem that the guest stars all have similar voices – lacking in distinct character – and make it more difficult to distinguish the tracks separately.
The butchering of Suzanne Vega‘s ‘Tom’s Diner’ is the ultimate low-point of the album. Naively unaware that Fall Out Boy already tampered with the eighties a Capella classic on ‘Centuries’ from this year’s American Beauty/Psycho, Britney Spears re-vocalizes in a horrifically cold and colorless waste of space. Spears is a singer that’s as irrelevant as Eminem in this decade’s music, and a reflection of the fate that Giorgio Moroder could face as a backlash to this album. It’s probably wise to forget this release and time travel to his old catalogue, where he abode by his own set of rules.