Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Klein & M.B.O. - De-Ja-Vu

Forefathers of the Chicago house and New York garage scenes in the 1980s, staple of the Italo disco genre and creators of the song that inspired "Blue Monday", it's surprising that the group Klein & M.B.O. are not more widely known.

Formed in 1981 by producers Mario Boncaldo and Tony Carrasco, Klein & M.B.O.'s first single, "Dirty Talk" became a major undergound hit, particularly in the United States club scene. According to Bernard Summer, the arrangement for New Order's best known song "Blue Monday" was borrowed from "Dirty Talk" whilst the song was also covered by Miss Kittin and The Hacker in 2002. The success of the single led to the release of "De-Ja-Vu", the only full length album from the group.



The album beings with a nod to their growing notoriety in New York with "The Big Apple" and sets the tone for the distinctive Klein & M.B.O. sound of slick arpeggiated synthesizer riffs, punchy Roland TR-808 drum patterns and over the top vocals from Rossana Casale and Naimy Hacket. The influential "The MBO Theme" (released as a single in 1983) continues in a similar but more fully realized vein featuring funk flavoured guitar and a quasi-rap vocal from Carrasco. The album's third track, the lengthy "Wonderful" features vocals from Casale and a vaguely contemporary sounding bassline. Both were released as singles in 1983 and expanded on the group's underground fame in the United States.

Side B opens with the aforementioned and best known Klein & M.B.O. track "Dirty Talk" which combines an infectious bassline with various synthesized melodies which gradually build towards the songs main vocal from Rossana Casale culminating in her hysteric laughter at the end of the song. The title track "De-Ja-Vu" shifts the mood of the LP drastically in what is a largely guitar driven, vocal heavy song. Much darker than the rest of the LP, "De-Ja-Vu" is more akin to the gloomy alternative rock of the new wave than the Italo disco sound with which the group are most commonly associated. The mood is lifted with the albums final track, the upbeat "I Love You" which sees a return to the sound of Side A and ends the album on a positive note.



Klein & M.B.O. were quite influential considering their obscurity and compared with many of the artists associated with the Italo Disco genre, their music has stood the test of time and dated relatively well whilst Marco Boncaldo's pioneering use of synthesizers and drum machines would be echoed in countless electro/dance tracks for decades to come.


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