It’s 1996, Britpop is all-seeing and Rough Trade couldn’t give a hoot. They’ve just released ‘Technicolor’ the third and final offering from Redbridge’s Disco Inferno in a career that spanned a mere six years. On the face of it, they were a traditional guitar band, shrinking from a teenage four-piece to a trio of singer/guitarist Ian Crause, bassist Paul Willmott and drummer Rob Whatley when keyboard player Daniel Gish quit before they’d released a note to join Bark Psychosis, based up the road in Snaresbrook.
Fuelled by a love of My Bloody Valentine and The Young Gods, early doors Disco Inferno made a bloody racket. That idea of sound for sound’s sake really caught Crause’s imagination and, in October 1992, their ‘Summer’s Last Sound’ EP on hard-up east London label Cheree saw something of a change in direction with one essential purchase.
“I had some money in a savings account from my bar mitzah,” Crause told Jeanette Leech for her excellent ‘Fearless: The Making Of Post-Rock’ book. “I had to fight my parents for about six months to let me use part of it to get the sampler I wanted.”
Battle won, he spent a whopping £2,500 on an Akai S-950. Just as sample-heavy licks and MIDI tricks blew the doors off the Disco Inferno sound their label went bust and, lucky for us, Rough Trade snaffled them. A string of increasingly ambitious EPs followed and while it seems to be accepted that the peak of their powers is their second album, 1994’s ‘D I Go Pop’, for my hard-earned, it’s this, their final offering, that tops the lot.
It’s sort of pop songs, but they full of EVERYTHING. The melodies are there, but they fight with walls of sound and waves of samples. ‘Technicolor’ is full of “Oh hello” moments. ‘Sleight Of Hand’ sums things up nicely.
Sure, it’s a pretty straight song to begin with, much of their output is, and then it’s bludgeoned into something else entirely. The killer though is ‘It’s A Kid’s World’. I still recall being stopped in my tracks, hearing it for the first time on Peel.
The sample is so obvious it seems daft they even bothered when a few months earlier it was starring in ‘Trainspotting’. That drum beat, even slowed down and wonked up, is unmistakable. ‘Lust For Life’. The melodies are from two kids’ TV themes, which need more eagle ears – ‘Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds’ and ‘Willo The Wisp’, both of a certain vintage. Best not get me started on the significance of 1981. The whole thing is deliciously unhinged, all pumping keys and heavily choruses guitars, it’s almost Afrobeat, ‘Graceland’ anyone? Nah, that’s too mad. Isn’t it? The whole thing is glorious.
By the end, Disco Inferno took whatever you thought you knew about pop, turned it inside out, held it upside down and shook it until the loose change fell out. This month sees One Little Indian (their label in the US) reissue this mighty record on vinyl for the first time since its original outing. Treat yourself to a lost classic from these true trailblazers.