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ITALIANS DO IT BETTER

With a West Coast tour looming and problems with the recording (burnt singers, overheated tape reels, the final mix getting lost in the post etc), Chromatics' Johnny Jewel decided to run off a few demo CDs of "Night Drive" to sell at the band's shows anyway. However, as soon as the press and bloggers got hold of copies, the album became in overnight sensation. In need of money to get Italians Do It Better going (this was 2007 remember), and with big demand for copies, Jewel decided to release this demo version as a full album... Which is how it remained - until now! When that lost final mix finally turned up 18 months later (!), it was decided to remaster the whole production, add the tracks missed off the original demo CD copies and press up some vinyl too.

The record opens at the end of a long night with our heroine making a phone call to her lover. In the background through the muffled walls of a sweaty nightclub you can hear music playing. She drives to the coast to clear her head, with "Night Drive" on the car stereo. As the hi-hat attacks your speakers, her hair blows in the breeze. This is the opening of the record that continues to define Chromatics' unique sound. The music is drenched in reverb echoeing the death of hope and the price of nostalgia. The most powerful example of this is Chromatics daring take on the Kate Bush classic, "Running Up That Hill," a favorite amongst fans and critics alike. With ethereal songs like "Tomorrow Is So Far Away", "Tick Of The Clock", & "Let's Make This A Moment To Remember", they give the listener the space to breathe. We get a glimpse of their chequered past with the post punk sheen of Joy Division on "Healer".

The lost side of the album is dark and abstract. Opening with the almost funerial "Shining Violence". Where detuned analog synths collide and struggle to hang onto a fading melody. Followed by the sleeper hit, "Circled Sun", and the Vangelis-inspired reflection of life's duality in "The Gemini". "Night Drive" closes with an arpeggiated musical refrain from the beginning of side one. "Acelerator" reinterprates elements of the chord progression from "Night Drive" while leaning heavily on the gear shift. As painted lines in the road begin to strobe, Chromatics propels full speed ahead into an uncertain future.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Pink champagne coloured vinyl.

Johnny Jewel

Digital Rain

    Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed 2017 LP "Windswept" - which soundtracked David Lynch's Twin Peaks, "Digital Rain" is Johnny Jewel’s latest album. Jewel is known for his extensive collaborations with film makers David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Ryan Gosling, as well as for his work with groundbreaking musical groups such as Chromatics, Glass Candy, and Desire.
    The 19 movements of Digital Rain are three dimensional beds of analogue warmth encompassed in raw electronic moisture. The result is an expansive pallet of soft color amid canyons of jagged oscillations. According to Jewel, "Digital Rain is a mirror image of itself designed to play as a singular liquid movement."
    "After living a few years in a desert climate, I realized I was nostalgic for the constant presence of precipitation from every city I once called home. The sound of hail ricocheting off my roof in Houston...The floods crashing in from the Gulf of Mexico that would destroy my mother's house three times...The constant kiss of drizzle on the streets of Portland, and the morning rain against the windshield of Trimet city bus number 15 that I would ride home after recording all night...The snow buried row houses of Montreal where my daughter was born, and the rhythmic feel of ice cracking under my boots for six months straight."
    "The desert is constant, and I love this repetitious ritual of Los Angeles so much. As moisture and humid weather seem more and more like a dream I once had or a fading memory of the places I fell in love with...I wanted to make a record without drums, without lyrics, vague in form. Each track morphing and eclipsing the next like the ever-changing movement of clouds obscuring the moon."


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: It's pretty rare that Johnny Jewel / Chromatics / Italians Do It Better as a whole put anything bad out. This is no exception. Brimming with the sort of tender arpeggio's and kosmische atmospherics that make my eyes go all dewy, this is absolutely stunning.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: LP pressed on Pink Champagne coloured vinyl – limited to 2000 units world wide.

    Say yes! The definitive gossamer Italo floor fuel of Ida No and Johnny Jewel's Glass Candy outfit enjoys an expanded reissue here on sexy lavender vinyl after over a decade out of print. Nothing but synthetic positivity as both the title track and "Drumm" stride with an almost marching feel before "Where Time Sits Still" plunges much deeper into moody new romantic cinematics. Elsewhere other highlights include the slinky poignancy that lingers from every spacious bass pluck on "City Lights" and the trembling ambience and pressurised atmosphere of the finale "Sanctuary". Yes please.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Moonlit, melancholic majesty from the early days of Glass Candy. Before "B/E/A/T/B/O/X/" and their superb Belle Epoque cover on "After Dark", Johnny Jewel and Ida No were holed up in Portland, perfecting their VHS-hazed brand of nocturnal Italo pop with this set of floor oriented gems.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Lavender coloured vinyl.
    Archival Reissue Originally Recorded 2004-2006 In Portland. Out Of Print For Over A Decade


    Ltd LP Info: Pink coloured vinyl.
    Archival Reissue Originally Recorded 2004-2006 In Portland. Out Of Print For Over A Decade

    Chromatics

    Nite

      When "Nite" first appeared way back in 2006, Chromatics had yet to release their breakthrough album, "Night Drive". Since then, the Johnny Jewel-helmed combo has gone on to bigger and better things, with each successive album bringing a fresh wave of success. As this reissue neatly proves, their sound was a little different back then. While there are nods towards their later soundtrack-inspired sound (see "Birds of Prey" and "Sleepwalker"), much of the mini-album is split equally between fuzzy, guitar-heavy art-rock workouts and, more thrillingly, the kind of thrusting, muscular Italo-disco revivalism that Mike Simonetti's Italians Do It Better imprint once excelled at delivering. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: Italians Do It Better go back to their roots with this mega reissue of the impossibly rare "Nite" LP from back in 2006. A perfect example of the early sound of IDIB, "Nite" perfectly captures the world of neon-tinged diners and 80s movies with a super cool combination of Italo synths, dark disco and post punk guitars. Warriors...come out to play.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited edition green vinyl.

      Ltd LP Info: Limited edition red vinyl.

      Montreal based Desire is blissed out Euro disco featuring Johnny Jewel on synth and guitars, (Chromatics, Glass Candy) Nate Walker on drums, (Chromatics) and hot as glass, Montreal singer, Megan-Louise. What sets Johnny Jewel's great production style apart from so many others is his reluctance to use computers and new equipment in both production and live performance, thus giving the music and analog quality that is infinitely more arresting than most contemporary disco counterparts. Features the hit song "Under Your Spell" which was on the Original Soundtrack for 2011's Drive (film featuring Ryan Gosling).

      After five years of experimenting with a string of different singers, Chromatics introduced Ruth Radelet as the lead actress to star in their films in 2005. Forever standing out from the crowd, Chromatics imagined the soft rock focus of Hall & Oates stretched over a Fleetwood Mac beat, trading the dancefloor for gorgeous chords and melancholic strings. They lived where it was always late and neon lights glimmered across the wet streets... This record archives studio work between 2004 & 2006 leading up to the now infamous "Night Drive" album.

      "Dark Day" first appeared on the unexpected breakout label sampler, "After Dark". On this original version of "Hands In The Dark" 808 bass pummel your speakers, and the guitars remember Martin Hannett's colouring of Joy Division. Meanwhile, synthesizers crash into the beat as Ruth hums a melody at the top of the lighthouse. Side one closes with the slow motion "I'm On Fire". A cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic.

      Next, the record takes a moment to breathe with the abstract instrumental, "Tears Of Pain". Revisiting the spacial elements of Morricone & Krzysztof Komeda overlooking a city of bridges. The vocoder driven "Lady" sounds like a Japanese sequencer on its death bed struggling to arpeggiate its last electronic breath. Then the band gives a nod to one of the greatest bands to ever come out of Portland, Dead Moon. Their cover of "Dagger Moon" hovers in a thick synthetic waltz from 2005 that predates all drag. The record closes with the unreleased instrumental version of "In The City". Meant to appear on the original 12", but got destroyed at the pressing plant in a warehouse fire. Chromatics is the blood and guts of American imagery, with a taste for European noir. Despair... Romance... Hope... Beauty... Pain. All in under 103 beats per melody.

      Full color artwork with the classic drawing of Ruth glaring into an uncertain future with a single tear. Comes with a full color insert with lyrics on one side, & a drawing of dueling Peggy Moffitts on the other. Peggy Moffit was the 1960's muse for the visionary fashion designer, Rudi Gernreich. Vinyl version includes a free digital download code with a bonus track titled, "The Long Road Home". Due to Chromatics' disregaurd for music industry laws, and a blatant Francoise Hardy vocal sample, this track cannot be sold. So IDIB decided to give it to us for free. This record has it all.


      It's hard to think of any other record that so perfectly encapsulates that favourite part of the day for all nighthawks, revellers and DJs. The hour before dawn, when the streets of the city are empty, lights change for traffic that isn't there and a lone fox is you're only companion on your walk home. Taking their inspiration from the synth-heavy soundtracks of John Carpenter (especially "Assault On Precinct 13"), Kraftwerk, Madonna and Timbaland their sound is unique because of the absence of sequencers and computers. There's something undeniably refreshing about dance music that goes out of time occasionally. Highlights include "Rolling Down The Hills" and "Beatific" but it's their cover of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" that's the record's masterpiece. It's hard to believe that a song written nearly thirty years ago could soundtrack, so perfectly, the alienation of city living in the twenty first century. Thank you Italians Do It Better for "B/E/A/T/B/O/X".

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Bubblegum pink vinyl repress.

      Johnny Jewel presents his Summer Mix Of The New 12 Inches, Excerpts From LPs, & Archival Reissues from Italians Do it Better Label.

      20 Traxxx...79 Minutes...11 Artists...9 Cities

      Includes tracks from Chromatics, Nite Jewel, Glass Candy, Johnny Jewel alongside new label signings such as Heaven

      This Summer Is Gonna Be Sick...

      "Kill for Love", Chromatics first album since "Night Drive", finally gives their loosely associated, prematurely decayed post-punk musical aesthetic its magnum opus - and brilliantly transcends it. The moonlit vibe of previous highlights recurs, and various tracks still crackle and pop with the all-too-mortal degradation of vinyl, and the album boasts some of the most engrossing synth-pop songs so far this year.
      "Kill for Love" signals its tour-de-force ambitions from the opening track, a synth-draped cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)". It's a thoroughly rewarding pop deconstruction, setting one of singer Ruth Radelet's most affecting performances against an evocatively restrained backdrop. "Kill For Love"'s clearest improvement over "Night Drive" comes in its impressive clutch of left-field synth-pop standouts. The pill-dropping insomniac rush of the title track is the most likely to propel Chromatics onto festival billings, but the existential ache of "Back From The Grave" is no less gorgeously catchy.
      When Jewel suggested in a recent Pitchfork interview that he was more influenced by Madonna than by crate-digging Eurodisco rarities, it was logical to wonder if he was being falsely modest. That is, until hearing "These Streets Will Never Look the Same", which stretches "Eye Of The Tiger"-like guitar tension into an eight-minute treatise on loneliness and includes the album's first male lead vocal, rendered cyborg-like by a vocal harmonizer. Or take the vampire-pallid lament "Running From the Sun", another male-led track, based on piano chords reminiscent of those found on Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". Still, just as the pop songs on "Kill For Love" are more direct than on "Night Drive", even the record's most ephemeral moments are more deeply engaging than their equivalents on the last album, livened up by disembodied vocals and orchestral touches. By including so many mood-oriented parts, "Kill For Love" paradoxically rises above hazy synth-pop's occupational hazard of dissolving into a blur of mood and mood alone. It's not just a collection of hits; it's an album, one that gives the project's familiar nocturnal foreboding a new sense of grandeur.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      David says: Unless you've been living in a cave this year, you'll know that Chromatics' main man Johnny Jewel composed the soundtrack to 2012's most stylish film - “Drive” - only to have it rejected and be reborn as Symmetry's "Theme For An Imaginary Film". "Kill For Love", much like Symmetry and Jewel's other bands Glass Candy and Desire, continues the search for the perfect soundtrack of the city at night. A city of empty, rain slicked streets and pulsing neon lights that lies somewhere between the worlds of Raymond Chandler and Edward Hopper, untold stories of loss and yearning hiding behind each locked door and shuttered window. Gloriously uplifting and heart breakingly melancholic in equal measure, "Kill For Love" is the sound of Giorgio Moroder and Madonna jamming in Tech Noir, while Johnny Marr shares a drink with a young New Order at the bar.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Limited Re-press on 2 x Clear Vinyl & 12x12 Lyric Sheet Insert

      "Windswept" sees exceptional Italian Johnny Jewel doing it just as well (you couldn't do it better than) as Angelo Badalamenti, delivering an excellent collection of Twin Peaks compositions.

      Solely based on song titles, you’d say "Missing Pages", "Strobe Lights", "Slow Dreams", "Motel", "Between Worlds", and "The Flame" were written for Twin Peaks, and except for maybe "Strobe Lights", it’s a safe assumption. The jazzy vibraphones on "The Crimson Kiss", another title that could easily be a reference, and "Motel" —an instrumental in collaboration with another Johnny Jewel project called Glass Candy— made them instant adds to the Audrey Horne-inspired Isn’t It Too Dreamy playlist.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: LP pressed on milk coloured vinyl

      CD Info: Limited Edition Of 2000 CD. Packaged in Wallet Slipcase

      Eagerly appreciated and long overdue, the vinyl release of the Jonny Jewel helmed soundtrack to Ryan Gosling's directorial debut has finally arrived - and it is fully worth the wait!
      A fan of the label from his Drive days (you may remember that the soundtrack was peppered with steely electronic cuts from the IDIB crew), Gosling reached out to label mainstay Jonny Jewel to score his dark and seedy tale of the weirder fringes of the Detroit underbelly. Finding a perfect thematic foil for his sinister, Carpenter-esque synthwave and queasy Italo-pop, Jewel created a score alive with eerie synth drones, pulsating sequences and the odd homage to Italian horror legends Goblin. Mood music fully realised, the Italians Do It Better boss hit the studio with friends and family Chromatics, Glass Candy, Symmetry and Desire to inject a little synth pop sorrow into proceedings. Even in the comfort of your own home, the flickering neon of this synthetic syrup should make your skin crawl. Elsewhere, cast members Ben Mendelsohn and Saoirse Ronan offer murder ballads and torch songs while Billy Ward & His Dominoes add a little black magic a la Nick Cave or Tom Waits.
      Lavishly pressed on triple purple vinyl, featuring Jewel's original score and a handful of wonders from the label's leading act, this dream collaboration between Gosling and Italians Do It Better feels like a worthy follow up to the exceptional "After Dark" compilations, while showcasing the cinematic clout of the label head and main songwriter.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: After an unbearable wait, the Italians Do It Better curated soundtrack to Ryan Gosling's directorial debut is here - and it's every bit as good as you'd hope for. Either alone at the workstation or in full studio mood with members of Desire, Glass Candy and Chromatics, Jonny Jewel perfectly captures the queasy, unsettling and unpleasant mood of Gosling's fusion of Lynch, Refn and Mario Bava. Essential for soundtrack collectors and fans of the cultish label, this is an exceptional, albeit creepy, bit of home entertainment.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      3xLP Info: Limited purple vinyl edition.


      Glass Candy

      B/E/A/T/B/O/X - Clear Vinyl Pressing

      It's hard to think of any other record that so perfectly encapsulates that favourite part of the day for all nighthawks, revellers and DJs. The hour before dawn, when the streets of the city are empty, lights change for traffic that isn't there and a lone fox is you're only companion on your walk home. Taking their inspiration from the synth-heavy soundtracks of John Carpenter (especially "Assault On Precinct 13"), Kraftwerk, Madonna and Timbaland their sound is unique because of the absence of sequencers and computers. There's something undeniably refreshing about dance music that goes out of time occasionally. Highlights include "Rolling Down The Hills" and "Beatific" but it's their cover of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" that's the record's masterpiece. It's hard to believe that a song written nearly thirty years ago could soundtrack, so perfectly, the alienation of city living in the twenty first century. Thank you Italians Do It Better for "B/E/A/T/B/O/X".

      Six years ago Mike Simonetti launched Italians Do It Better with the faultless "After Dark" compilation. It was one of those rare occasions when a label nails its sound and vision, wonderfully evocative of late night New York diners and subway cars decorated with graffiti, soundtracked by the blurred lines between disco, italo, new wave, post punk and 80s cinema. From that moment onwards the label has gone from strength to strength, its roster touring the world and creeping into the mainstream consciousness, especially after featuring in Bronson and Drive. "After Dark II" is a snapshot of where the label stands in the present day, collecting some of the best tracks from recent 12" singles as well as a number of brand new tracks exclusive to this release. Glass Candy kick things off with the heartfelt "Warm In The Winter", which could be the greatest 80s film soundtrack to never have been, and roll the credits with the brooding "Redheads Feel More Pain", a carpenter-esque track with Jewel's synths at their most intense and Ida No's vocals other worldly and Lynchian. Amongst the 13 tracks in between we hear ballads of love and longing from Chromatics ("Cherry" and "Camera"), Desire ("Tears From Heaven") and Mirage ("Let's Kiss"), cinematic synthwave from Mike Simonetti's Symmetry guise and analogue grooves from Glass Candy ("Beautiful Object" and "The Possessed"). But this compilation isn't just about the big names, the piano house inspired "Half Lives" by Twisted Wires is perfectly formed and Farah's "Into Eternity" is an utterlessly remorseless horror theme. New signings Appaloosa also turn in two stadium sized pop songs to whet your appetite for their forthcoming debut LP for the label. From the first note to the last, After Dark II is a flawless showcase of the sound the label created six years ago but shows that the artists involved have come on leaps and bounds in terms of songwriting.


      Recorded in November of 2008, and mixed in Montreal in 2010, "Gay Boy" is probably the strangest record Italians Do It Better have released yet. The label have been scratching their heads for over a year trying to figure out what to do with this one, but now they've finally put it out. It's a future cult classic for sure. Imagine LL Cool J’s "I Need Love” and the Shangri-las “Leader Of The Pack” seen through the eyes of a sadly misguided valley girl on lithium. An outtake from the new Farah LP "Into Eternity Suite 304" studio sessions, the track appears in four versions here (extended, radio version, 'Chocolate Martinis Instrumental' and 'Her & The Drums' mixes). A real Marmite track!


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