It’s always intriguing to hear of collaborations as musical or side projects rather than as full-fledged bands or groups. I guess the thought of being in more than one band sounds both tacky and unprofessional.
Whatever the case, the recent project New York-based Hercules And Love Affair injects some disco love into contemporary music. Hercules is the love child of DJ Andy Butler, who shares vocal duties with Antony Hegarty (of Antony And The Johnsons), Kim Ann, and Nomi.
Andy co-produced the project’s debut album with Tim Goldsworthy, and the two mold the traditionally energetic and loud disco stylings into a more subdued “art house” pop sound that’s usually reserved for private listening.
“I can see that [disco] had the same spirit hip-hop did when it was first born. It was another brand of rebellious music that was basically saying ‘f*ck you!’ for being super dramatic and ultra femme,” Nomi said (press release) about the underappreciated disco movement.
Hercules And Love Affair takes that disc sensibility further by unapologetically allowing beats and rhythms to cooperate and mix without the fear of incompatibility or weirdness. “Hercules Theme” perfectly encapsulates this mindset by fusing horns with the kind of funk normally seen under moonlight. Without being commandeering or overtly flashy, Hercules manages that fine line between casual mellowness and induced body moving by finding that balance of attractive, but low-key vocals and memorable melodies, as in the headlining “Blind” (see video here) or in the kiss kiss-causing “Iris.”
The album’s second half slows in tempo, but not in experimentation. In these instances, Hercules felt it too much to do too much, which explains the lack of accompanying zip to the seemingly out-there zap. You get what sounds like the raw chants and drummings of a pagan ritual (“Easy”) before the return of more danceable electronica (“Raise Me Up” and “True/False, Fake/Real”).
The end result of Hercules And The Love Affair is simplicity, masked under the complicated “producing and twiddling” of Andy and Tim coupled with the pitch-perfect singing of Antony, Kim Ann, and Nomi.