by NUfrequency feat. Ben Onono
by Mark E
The disco revival in dance music over the past half-decade or so is a lot more patient than most of the actual disco era ever was. Listeners as well as DJs and dancers are more prone to treating pure sound—a hi-hat's sibilance, the roundness or woodiness of a bass tone, the piercing quality of high-pitched synth programming—in a fetishistic way, and sampling has made isolating the really good-sounding part of a record a routine way of hearing it anew. In neo-disco, few are better at this—if anyone is at all—than Birmingham, England's Mark Evetts, whose chop-ups of old disco records tend to build and build and build, then detonate—though sometimes not.
Mark E takes the latter option with his remix of NUfrequency's "Fallen Hero." He couches Ben Onono's vocal in a slo-mo pulse, a handful of simple keyboard phrases, and a wormy bass pattern that all build in volume and intensity without hurry. The long middle, featuring Onono's dreamy "That's why I-I" over fingerpicked acoustic guitar, testifies to the remixer's ability to sustain suspense for seemingly forever.
Mark E's obsessive reworking of Diana Ross's "You Were the One," from 1979, does something similar—but rather than act as a balm, though it begins as coolly as the NUfrequency remix, here he keeps ratcheting up the tension, even as Ross's vocal finally enters and the creamy friction seems impossible to sustain. Then, three-quarters of the way in, he pulls out all the stops. The track becomes a florid epic, the strings and backing vocals pounding like high tide. It's shameless, invigorating, emotionally overwhelming—and in its way, even more disco than the song it reconfigures.
Kudos to whoever mastered this thing. Play it with the volume way down, and chances are the neighbors are still going to complain: That's how huge, and constant, the bass is on this banging house track. You could set your watch to it. You can also jump up and down—and chances are that if you're on a dance floor when it comes on, you will. The fizzy crackle that runs through it—filtered, distended, stretched till it resembles a thick black line turning into tiny dots and then back again—provides variety, but when a record works this mercilessly, variation is hardly the point.