April 27, 2009

Metro Area – s/t CD (2002, Environ)

Metro Area takes the best elements of '80s dance music and strips away the vocals and most of the cheesiness, leaving the essential components of funk intact for some very fresh, organic-sounding dance music. Slap bass, hand claps, quirky synths, tambourines and cow bells are all here in a fresh, updated dance sound. Some of the tracks could probably pass for obscure b-sides from '80s house records, and in fact Metro Area helped broaden my taste to where I started paying more attention to disco and '80s house music rather than dismissing them as “too cheezy” or “dated”. Now I can appreciate the rhythmic breaks and instrumental interludes, the dub mixes and edits that strip away the corny diva vocals. Metro Area released a series of four 12”s from '99 to '01 and then compiled most of the tracks onto a self-titled CD in '02. Since then there have been three more volumes of the 12” series, and the Environ Records label, which is run by Morgan Geist (half of Metro Area), has been releasing a great selection of electro, disco and '80s-styled house records, particularly from Daniel Wang and Kelley Polar. Last year, Metro Area also released their edition of the excellent Fabric mix series, a DJ mix of “mutant disco” and underground '80s dance tracks. There is a great video of one of their live sets from '03 that has been floating around the net for a while, you can see it here. (BONUS TIP: Spirit Catcher also offers a great interpretation of this sound, check out the “Fission Trips” 12”!)