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Black Devil Disco Club - 28 After

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Artist: Black Devil Disco Club

Album: 28 After

Label: Lo Recordings

Review date: Nov. 28, 2006

Controversial opinion: most dance music has a consumer shelf life of about 9-12 months before it’s forgotten by most anyone who might have cared. Music engineered specifically for the club tends in this day and age to live, in the hands of many DJs, precisely for the moment it’s spun in, and as it hits the break or the fade-out, so does its muscle memory. It lives and dies on what it does in the moment.

So you’d have to wonder what it does when it’s five years ahead of its own time, or maybe 25. In 1978, an import disco album surfaced by a group called Black Devil (or Black Devil Disco Club – its labels failed to disseminate the difference, in lieu of a cartoon of a topless African succubus on its cover). Made under pseudonyms, the music came from two French bureaucrats who created a minor masterpiece, riding bongo-stoned, loping grooves out against dark, buzzing analog synth, scat-sentenced vocal boogaloo met by over-Vocoded cracklings. Released on the Out imprint of RCA overseas, the record slipped through many a crack, and landed in dusty bins hither and yon. The record’s scarcity and adventurous sounds made it a grail on the collector’s market, idolized by those who made the music, until finally the public could once again claim it, via a series of 12”s reissued in Rephlex in 2004.

Now, a few years later, and with much mystery, comes 28 After. Facts behind it are very few: its surviving member Bernard Fevre operating under the name, and nobody knows if it was recorded recently or if it’s actual vintage. From the sounds of things, maybe it’s a bit of both: some of the bongo tracks seem like they’ve been lifted off the originals, while synth patches sound warmer and recorded on a computer. But it makes no difference: when you know you’re hearing the future – and club music headed in all the directions Black Devil would have pointed out by about 1983 – you try and follow it. Nearly three decades later, it’s impossible and even a bit unfair to expect the same, especially from such an anonymous source.

Sadly, dance music is not reinvented within, not even improved upon. It’s a solid release with the same charms of the original intact, and nothing more. No ideas are progressed here, nor does the new material match the immediacy of the OG. If there’s a real mystery about when these tracks were made, it’d only come down to gearhounds hoping to pick Fevre clean when he decides to cash out.

By Doug Mosurock

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