We’re neck-deep in yet another Eurotrash summer (seriously, have you been out to P.S.1’s Summer Warmup or in the Village on a Saturday night? It’s like Rome’s Spanish Steps or Amsterdam’s De Wallen these days, what with all the tourists), and while the plunging dollar makes an import mix CD (from Belgium, no less) a rather extravagant purchase, a summer soundtrack provided by an Italian godfather is too good to pass up.
Two transplanted New York DJs brought Philly soul and U.S. funk to Italian villa/discotheque Baia Degli Angeli in the mid-’70s, and soon trained bambino Daniele Baldelli to man the decks; Baldelli, spurning his native “Italo-disco,” spawned the more strung-out BPMs of “Afro” and “Cosmic,” woeful catch-all names for his ambitious and borderless mixes of folks like Cerrone, Depeche Mode, Steve Reich, and Miroslav Vitous’s “New York.” Now seen as the granddaddy for the likes of Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas and Rub’n’Tug, Baldelli (along with fellow countryman Marco Dionig) here drops a mix that’s neither disco nor rock. If it’s anything, it’s new wave: twitchy, jittery, with plenty of slide guitar and harmonica to boot. Or, as the Ray Parker Jr. song puts it: “It makes me wanna grab my guitar and play with it all night long.” While the opening track features an awkward beat-match, Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock!!! accelerates as it draws from names more familiar to Hits of the ’80s fans: The Romantics and Thompson Twins appear with boosted-drum B-sides. Of course, it takes a legend like Baldelli to know that you can peak with dude-rockers Spirit and their goofy rock opera track “Potatoland Theme.” Then again, Patrick Cowley did discofy Spirit’s lone hit, “I Got a Line on You,” during that Eurotrash wave that accompanied Reaganomics in the early ’80s.