Release Date: Jun 25, 2013
Record label: Italians Do It Better
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Dance
Rarely do compilation albums add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. Google is generally required to have more that just a cursory reflection on the history of great comps, with most coming from soundtracks or single-artist hits packages that assemble the best of perviously available material. Charity compilations also come to mind, where Red Hot is at the top of the class of that field with Dark Was The Night and No Alternative, a couple examples of primarily new material compiled and presented in a way that is artful.
When it arrived in 2007, Italians Do It Better's After Dark compilation provided a way forward. "Italo survived electroclash," wrote Marc Hogan; indie rock had too. Six years later, dance music has pervaded that genre to the point where discussing specific movements no longer feels relevant; it's just there, and After Dark had a part in that. Its status as a modern indie/dance classic makes it easy to forget to how thin and stitched-together it felt, how delicate its papier-mache disco.
DON’T PANIC!... but the Pied Piper o’ Dark Disco known to humans as “Johnny Jewel” may not be of this world. Not because he’s a shape-shifting, mice-eating, Luciferian Lizard intent on controlling the galaxy, but because the music he produces sounds so gloriously of its own world—stardust-sprinkled space-pop that sounds like it’s touching from a distance, crystal visions beamed in from a utopian parallel universe.
When Portland electro-pop producer Johnny Jewel and his Chromatics returned from a long gap between records with 2012's translucent Kill for Love, they perfected the cold fusion of dark, goth-tinged indie songwriting merged with icy electronic production they'd been leaning toward since their 2007 album, Night Drive. Around the same time as Night Drive, a compilation came out entitled After Dark, gathering up remixes and other scattered tracks from artists affiliated with Italians Do It Better, the label co-founded by Jewel that sought to provide a home for artists of the same mind as he. That turned out to be pretty easy, since Jewel served as either bandmember, producer, or remixer for a vast majority of the artists featured, but that wasn't really much of an issue.
Way back in 2007, Italians Do It Better—the dance label curated by Mike Simonetti and Johnny Jewel—released their first After Dark compilation, kick-starting a conversation that was nearly as emblematic of that year's blog noise as were think pieces on Radiohead's pay-what-you-want sales policy. Disco was alive and doing the hustle again, at least as far as indie rockers were concerned. .
Anyone who’s watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch will be familiar with the popularizing of Aristophanes’ myth of the origin of love. Not so much Italians, then, as Mediterraneans do it better. And we’ve been waiting a long time — After Dark 2 was itself starting to seem mythological. So I know you think you know this one, but let’s do a (logically inevitable) eternal return to that myth, to test empirically Aristophanes’ paradigm: does the arising of a 2nd make us feel whole? Is it true that, as Farah puts it here on “Into Eternity,” “I am made in God’s image/ I was born only half a body”? Aristophanes theorized that there were originally three types of creatures: male, female, and androgynous.
byJEAN-LUC MARSH Johnny Jewel's Italians Do It Better label album After Dark 2 has been a long time coming. In the literal sense, it took six years for the fifteen songs to emerge, develop, and consolidate into one uniformly refined anthology, but in the metaphorical sense, it also took a renaissance in electronic music. In the years since the original After Dark, the tectonic plates of music have shifted away from dubstep and all of its grimy excessiveness, towards an era in which polished, sleek electro in once again in vogue.