If you, like me, love disco yet are slightly uncomfortable with revivalism, then you may share my mixed feelings about nu-disco. As good as some of the music is, does it do anything more than look back? If this is your worry, then Toby Tobias has produced an album that you can enjoy unreservedly. Space Shuffle is a collection of songs rooted in the disco classics of Italy and America, yet pulled off with enough verve and imagination to bring them easily into a modern tradition.
The key to the album's success is its sounds: Reminiscent of, but never quite wholly indebted to, something long past, there's a synthetic glow all around that's very modern. Spangled textures ricochet away from collisions with mutated percussion constantly. There's melody above the bass and behind the echo, but it's not the strident, dramatic melody of Lindstrom or Moroder, and neither is it the unabashed pop touch of Mr Flagio or Blaze. The melodic passages are more reserved, unfolding slowly in dub before being swept away by the next chord change. It's remarkable that an album so directly borne of the dancefloor conceals so many twists and turns. 'Who Dunnit?' heads off in one direction before being pulled back, the bass dropping again and again until we're rewarded with the final transcendent motif, squeezed out on a guitar and sent dribbling on its way in drops of delay. Space Shuffle has all the musicality of old school disco, yet it's expressed in a very different way.
Even when we hear the familiar burble of a 303 in 'A Close Shave,' it's never for some nostalgic filter work-out. It's used as a funky back bone, the bass machine carrying the tune 'Rip It Up' style. Vocals swim out of the mix for the first time on 'In Your Eyes,' and tunes with singers pop up throughout. Again, they're a nod back to the vocal-heavy days of disco, but the vocals retain their own character.
Many of these tunes would send the right dancefloor absolutely crazy, yet the album never feels hamstrung by a need to make people go rave-mad. Perhaps this is because Space Shuffle pulls all that's best from a wide range of genres. From disco to dub, modern house to Latin percussion, Space Shuffle sounds like nothing and everything at the same time.
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Tracklist: Toby Tobias - Space Shuffle01 Squeakstop Intro
03 Who Dunnit?
04 Say It Slow
05 In Your Eyes
06 Bugle Love
09 Every Move
12 Dave’s Sex Bits
13 A Close Shave
14 The Feeling
15 Landing Pad
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