Clubbers' decktionary: Italo
A guide to the myriad genres of clubbing
Italo (disco), adj. style of disco music commonly attributed to records of Italian origin, c.1978-1985.
Essentially electronic disco made with synthesisers and drum machines, Italo has a very white, rigid, European feel compared to its much looser, black American cousin (which had its own roots in soul, jazz, funk and R&B). Earlier releases tended to focus on futuristic, sci-fi themes and bizarre robot love songs, usually sung in English with a dodgy continental accent and characterised by an arpeggiated bass-line and baroque melodies, much catchier, poppier hooks for the European market than those found on US disco records at the time. As the genre became more popular, the subject matter and style of the records became more ridiculous and overblown, with the music emerging in cheesier and cheesier incarnations, until it eventually turned into a complete caricature of itself.
Origins Italo was a broad European phenomenon that developed as much via labels in Germany, the Netherlands and, later, Canada, as well as Italy.
Key figures Giorgio Moroder is probably the most famous Italo producer and pioneer, following his immortal ‘I Feel Love’ smash with Donna Summer and British songwriting collaborator Pete Bellotte in 1977. Setting a template for everyone making electronic dance music ever since, allegedly after the moustachioed Moroder accidentally knocked the arpeggiator switch on his analogue synth and subsequently had a eureka moment when that much-imitated propulsive bass-line spontaneously emerged. Although of Italian origin, Moroder was actually based in Germany when he struck gold, while fellow Italo dons Gino Soccio, Alexander Robotnick and the highly prolific Patrick Cowley were respectively Canadian, Italian and American. Salvatore Cusato, aka Casco (RIP), who died in January, was also a significant player.
Hobbes is resident at Devil Disco Club, Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sat 19 Mar.