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LABEL: Clubland Records GmbH RELEASE DATE: May 26, 2003 GENRE: Trance, Italo-Disco
// review by Jeff

Bringing italo-disco into the new millennium!

In other reviews, I've talked about the blatant disregard for other groups' works through distasteful distortion by chopping up the original samples and pasting them over cheesy Benassi-style basslines, or just almost copying directly the music of another group, tweaking the sound a little bit, and proclaiming it as their creations. And then there's something a little different: Master Blaster. They don't chop, and they don't cover and claim as their own -- instead, they take pieces of older italo-disco songs that have long been forgotten within the bitter sands of time and effectively paste them upon their unique synth sound to revive them. While the music might initially sound corny to the average listener, you can tell that the guys from Master Blaster are at least making an effort. And of course, their own melodies are used as well (both within the paste-happy songs and within their own compositions), so things are looking great by comparison.

But let's just take a peek at what they've actually put together here. Master Blaster starts us off with an introductory track that demonstrates their ability to simulate a heartbeat with a faded reverbed kick. Mixed with the standard Master Blaster MC vocals that will be scattered throughout the entire album, the intro eventually morphs into a mild melodic ditty that shows off the layered synth that they'll be using as their front leg, so to speak. Next is one of their popular 2003 hits, How Old R U?, which samples the 1984 italo-disco hit "How Old Are You?" by Miko Mission. The radio edit is featured on this album, so no extended mixing for us. Oh well. The sample of the chorus is maintained in its entirety, and played in its entirety, without any chopping up of any sort; clearly Master Blaster is a more intelligent remixer, as opposed to the more modern travesties of Royal Gigolos, Global Deejays, etc. The song later breaks into their signature dance synth for a melody that very much reflects the upbeat nature of the original song. This was a dance smash hit in 2003, and with good reason -- it IS pretty funky. The other single from this album, Hypnotic Tango, is next, and it bears a similar style to "How Old R U?". Sampling from "Hypnotic Tango" by My Mine, one of the...um...great italo-disco hits of 1983, the same formula is used here as in, only with a different sample. I'm inclined to believe that the sample here is of a higher pitch than the original, perhaps sped up simply because a lot of italo-disco tunes from the 80s are dreadfully sluggish. This one is of a much more danceable BPM, and so all will be well. It's just as good as "How Old R U?"... so don't make me choose!

Not everything is sampled though, as shown in the unusually-titled Pamana (Qu Ma Ya). This is a very straightforward and to the point dance track. Using a chopped up vocal sample that makes no sense at all, we are led via a boingy bass to a sudden absence of sound, and then the voice of Master Blaster says "Dance! Spin around! Push it! Yeaaaaaah! Master Blaster!" Their signature synth kicks in with a trance-style melody, and soon it goes full swing for a couple of rounds. Overall, a decent but not stellar track that is meant to just get the toes tapping, and it succeeds. It leads to Another Life, a thumpin' take on Kano's 1983 disco hit of the same title. While most of the song is influenced by the sample itself, there are instances of original Master Blaster tunage wedged between the chorus and verses. And let's not forget the most potent kick use on the entire album; 'twas meant to give your speakers a workout!

Delerium Mind is a strange track, but certainly an original one. Featuring vocals from an unknown male singer, this song boasts very eccentric lyrics: "I hate / rock your face / only way / delerium mind" ...or something to that extent. I'm confused; such is life. Anyway, nothing particularly stands out about this track, and in fact, it may just be a sliver of filler. The One (Back In Your Arms) is a typical dance track with female vocals similar to many other dance projects of the time (and of times past) but still has that flavour of italo-disco that this album is literally littered with. The signature synth and bouncy bass are not absent either. And Pay 4 Ur Life (yes, I spelled that correctly) is another dance number that has a similar flow to the previous two tracks. It has a catchy chorus and a strong element that may coerce even the most timid of woodland funksters to dance. But beyond the clearly evident vocal chorus and melody, there isn't much depth to this track. But its prime purpose is for dancing, so it's good enough.

Now I don't know what it is about Get Closer, but I have been hypnotized by this song ever since I first heard it several years ago. Taking a vocal sample from 80s italo-disco superstar Valerie Doré, vocals are plastered over a multi-layered and powerful modern disco groove. Everything fits together just so, and the cute voice of Doré adds an extra push of character to this song. Occasionally the vocals are drowned a bit by the instrumental portion, but it's a moot point. Definitely one of my favourites on the album. This is followed by Happy Children, a take on another 1983 italo-disco hit of the same name by P. Lion. With the signature synth at full blast, the weak vocal sample is overshadowed and therefore this song loses much of the magic it might have possibly gained with stronger vocals. However, from what I CAN hear, the vocals are relatively dull and lifeless; in fact, this may have fared better as a full-on instrumental track.

The 11-and-a-half-minute long Master Blaster Italo Boot Mix is basically a review of the previous ten tracks in one mixed set. If that's what you like, you're in luck. Otherwise, this may be the end of the line for the listener. The outro concludes the album (as a good outro should) with a lightly more ambient feeling to it at first, leading to a climax that doesn't come along a vocoded male voice saying "We love italo disco!" And everyone should love it.

As a whole, this is a fairly creative album in its own way. Master Blaster is trying to bring the "magic" of italo-disco into the 21st century, and they're doing it by bringing back classic hits but still adding their own melodic touches. The songs here are NOT just adaptations; they are complete reworks, showing that there has been effort put forth. And I'm pleased at how the italo-disco samples were handled, because the originals are too slow for my enjoyment. It is also worth noting that not all tracks were/are immediately enticing, but such is the way with any album. Of all the albums I've reviewed where samples are taken directly from old tracks and set to modern beats, this one ranks among the best.


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