Years Active: 48.
Provenance: Urtijëi, Italy.
Essential Albums: Son of My Father, Einzelgänger, From Here to Eternity, Midnight Express OST, E=MC2.
Essential Songs: "Looky Looky," "Watch Your Step," "Son of My Father," "London Traffic," "Aus (The End)," "Percussiv," "Untergang (Ruin)," "Love to Love You Baby" (with Donna Summer), "I Feel Love" (with Donna Summer), "From Here to Eternity," "Chase," "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (with David Bowie).
Influenced By: Tangerine Dream, Ennio Morricone, Kraftwerk, Lalo Schifrin.
Influence On: Mantronix, Chic, Arthur Baker, Derrick May, Cybotron, Human League, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Blondie, New Order, Sparks, Madonna, Daft Punk, Metro Area, Lindstrøm.
Precautions: Did you hear that bunk track he did with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories? Did you hear 2015's cheese-encrusted, cameo-heavy Déjà Vu? Oy vey. Moroder became infected by some bad EDM bug and couldn't flush it out of his system in time.
Why You Should Give a Fuck: Giorgio Moroder is best known for his popular disco epics with Donna Summer, "Love to Love You Baby" (1975) and "I Feel Love" (1977), and for adding clubby dazzle to Blondie's "Call Me," as featured in the 1980 film American Gigolo. If he'd accomplished only that, he'd still be revered worldwide. But before Moroder became a disco innovator and a genre headman, he led a charmed existence as Giorgio, a Fu Manchu'd bubblegum-pop auteur with a knack for indelible hooks. Only the most miserable bastard would want to neglect his early, gaudy pop excursions.
Giorgio's 1972 cult classic Son of My Father is packed with some of the catchiest, sexiest tunes of that year of catchy, sexy tunes. And if you're looking for crate-digger cred, note that DJ Shadow famously sampled the spine-tingling keyboard part of "Tears" for his standout Endtroducing track "Organ Donor." (Giorgio's goofy, English as a second language vocals also carry much charm.) Bubblegum, of course, didn't really have legs as a subgenre, and Giorgio was too talented and savvy to stay in one kitschy lane his whole career anyway, so he evolved.
With 1975's Einzelgänger, Moroder pseudonymously explored some of the most interesting ideas of his career. In a vein similar to that of mid-period Cluster and Yellow Magic Orchestra member Haruomi Hosono's solo work, Moroder concocted a synthesizer suite of quasi-tropical studies that show him unveiling a darker tonal side and inventive percussion strategies while not completely losing his fondness for whimsy. The result is a cult classic—and an outlier in Moroder's discography—that screams for a deluxe reissue loaded with liner notes and previously unreleased outtakes and photos. Nothing less will do.
Following this anomaly, Moroder transformed into the mensch-maschine genius for which most of the world loves him. The 1976 album Knights in White Satin took the Moody Blues' 1967 prog-pop hit of that title to a swanky European disco and got it drunk on synthetic strings, chikka-wakka guitar, and Italian vino. You can hear the shafts of decadence sliding into Moroder's arsenal of studio tricks: luxurious string sections that would impress Barry White, lavish keyboard motifs, and a sleazy singing style that probably wouldn't impress Barry White.
From Here to Eternity (1977) is where Moroder really honed his expansive disco vision and launched it to the classiest reaches of outer space. The title track is perfect in the way that Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" is: repetitive, emotive, and transportive in a manner that demands repeat spins both at home and in the club. These traits burst into florid color with the diptych of Donna Summer hits, which bore an erotic charge and irrepressible rhythmic throb heretofore unheard and unfelt. These tracks still can hold their own (and yours, you perv) with anything today's computer-enhanced producers can manufacture with their overflowing library samples and powerful software programs.
As many a hedonist understands, Giorgio's sonic, tantric orgasms are forever.