Black Devil Disco Club – Circus [REVIEW] (PRESS, US)

19 April 2011 Time Out
Review of the Black Devil Disco Club album Circus featuring Jon Spencer on the track Fuzzy Dream.
“Black Devil Disco Club Circus (Lo Recordings)
Bruce Tantum

Black Devil Disco Club

When Black Devil Disco Club’s “Disco Club” single surfaced in the mid ’00s on the Rephlex label, there were plenty who doubted the record’s backstory. Supposedly a reissue of a lost synth-disco obscurity from the ’70s by an obscure French artist named Bernard Fevre (or, in an alternate tale, a trio of unnamed producers), the sound was just too perfect, considering the lust for offbeat Italo-tinged electro that was sweeping over the DJ realm at the time. Was BDDC an alter ego of Rephlex boss Aphex Twin, perhaps in concert with Luke Vibert? Or was it really some unearthed oddity that just happened to fit perfectly with the zeitgeist of the time? Since then, BDDC has put out a series of releases, and Fevre has given a few interviews—he even played live at Glasslands last year—but there are still those who refuse to believe he’s a real person.

Some of those suspicions undoubtedly stem from the “Disco Club” single itself, which came off as the soundtrack to some electro-alien shindig from a far-away, dark-matter-obscured galaxy. The BDDC oeuvre hasn’t changed much since then, but when you have a shtick this wild, why mess with it? Circus is a good name for Fevre’s latest opus—but we’re talking a circus of the damned, rather than a kid-friendly, three-ring affair. The sound is basically old-school hi-NRG à la Bobby O, but swathed in reverb, as if recorded in a subaquatic echo chamber; pulsating, rapid-fire basslines anchor minor-key melodies, while various whirs and blips fill the empty spaces. The effect is darkly cinematic—but in such an over-the-top way that it becomes endearingly goofy. That charming quality is enhanced by the album’s reliance on vocals provided by cast of oddly appropriate guests, including Blues Explosions’ Jon Spencer (sounding very Nick Cave), Yacht’s Claire Evans, Afrika Bambaataa—and, on “Too Ardent,” Nancy Sinatra. Come to think of it, a lot of Circus does come off as the work of some alternate-universe Lee Hazelwood—and that is high praise.

April 19, 2011”