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ITALIANS DO IT BETTER

Nite Jewel

Want You Back

    Nite Jewel is the performing moniker of Ramona Gonzalez. She is a composer, songwriter, and multimedia artist from Los Angeles, California, where she has exhibited a number of video and sound installation pieces. The Nite Jewel project is a combination of revisionist Bronx pop and hazy musical impressionism. This re-release from Italians Do It Better features "Want You Back", a sparkling, hazy electro-pop / oddball post-disco song sounding like it's been made on vintage 80s keyboards. We get two mixes of this, plus two versions (English! Spanish!) of B-side gem "All Out Of Order", a slo-mo electronic groover which gives Ramona's vocal the vocoder treatment.

    Desire

    If I Can't Hold You Tonight

      As you may know, Desire's "II" album was one of our favourites of 2009, so this 12" re-release has got us all excited here at Piccadilly Records HQ. Basically we get four versions of "If I Can't Hold You Tonight" spread over two sides of wax, all exclusive to this release. Singer Megan Louise is at her melancholic, sultry best here, as her vocals get pushed forward in the mix, and the backing track is stripped right down to ultra-minimal house - just a kick drum, ocassional percussion, a few chime fills and a bit of keyboard work. And then there's a shorter version of the same mix. Deeeeeep! "I Can Dream About You" is another of these "If I Can't Hold You Tonight" mixes, this time instrumental, while the final '8 Track Demo' version is more like the LP mix, but - you've already guessed it - in demo form. Delicious.

      Invisible Conga People

      Cable Dazed/Weird Pains

        For their tenth release, (now re-released) Italians Do It Better offer up some psychedelic electro-acoustic Kraut-disco boogie by Justin Simon (guitar, other, runs Mesh-Key Records) and Eric Tsai (synths, other, makes some of the band's equipment himself). "Cable Dazed" is a slowly building epic that features a muted kick and shaker rhythms, watery keyboards and scratchy guitars, plus subtle vocal. "Weird Pains" has a similar backing track, but with an edgy, infected 'vocal' and urgent, pulsing keyboards. Think "E2-E4" meets early house music!

        Tess Roby

        Beacon

          The Beacon crowns Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire, looming over the verdant English countryside nearly six hundred feet above sea level. This spartan brick monolith was erected in 1798 as a watch tower to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic War — and there it silently remains, keeping infinite vigil. It stands in Tess Roby’s mind. The Beacon calls to her. “Throughout my life I have felt the pull to return to it,” she says. “I’m beckoned by father’s roots and by the sullen landscape of fields leading to the coast.”

          Tess Roby is an artist with a vision. The Montreal-based photographer and musician, an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, seems utterly original, moving with a restless energy toward the sublime. Her sound betrays an intrepid longing to discover and explore, to reject convention and transcend cliché: Roby is a born traveller, absorbing everything she hears and making it new. Ethereal and crystalline, bathed sumptuously in synths, her music is heady, dreamy, singular — a transmission from parts unknown. The classical training and aesthetic omnivorousness combine like worlds colliding.

          Roby’s debut album Beacon was written in 2015, following the death of her father. She collaborated with her brother Eliot to create what they describe as a kind of spiritual homage — both to her father and to the Beacon, where the family travelled often. Roby recorded these songs with the drum machines and synthesizers she found in her father’s recording studio, and galvanized by his spirit she imbued the music with love, movement, whispers, memories, and pain. “All the while the Beacon remained effervescent in my mind,” Roby remembers. “Visions of it ablaze on the hilltop, standing motionless while I searched for understanding.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Tender, Balearic chimes and languid strummed guitar meet with Roby's enchanting voice and tentative arpeggiated synths, Beacon is a brilliantly written and perfectly measured triumph.

          I first heard "Tick Of The Clock" on Chromatics' 2007 LP "Night Drive", tucked away amid a variety of Italo disco rompers and synth pop serenades to provide a moment of Carpenter style suspense. So far, so brilliant, but the track really came into its own when Nicolas Winding Refn picked it out to soundtrack a particularly intense chase scene in the neo-noir classic Drive. This new two-tone 12" features that condensed "Film Edit", a chuggy, lo-fi, drum-machine-heavy cut with a gorgeous bassline and intricate atmospherics, alongside two new versions; the Visione The Stroke Of Midnight edit is louder and packs a meaner punch in its groove; the extended overdrive mix goes back to the original but plays around with the arrangement more, darting in and out of the dark for added suspense.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Patrick says: One of the finest moments in the Italians Do It Better gets a welcome revisit here, as the Carpenter styled "Tick Of The Clock" finally gets its moment in the spotlight. Alongside an extended version which flips the arrangement for added drama, we have the condensed intensity of the "Drive" version alongside the Daft Punk punch of Visione's chugging re-edit.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Ltd 12" Info: 180g vinyl pressed on ultra-clear dipped in icy blue 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

              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...

              "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 repress on blue mist vinyl.

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

              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.


              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.

              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!

              The late 2007 arrival onto the cosmic / Balearic revival scene by Italians Do It Better has given the whole post-punky druggy disco sound a real lift, and none more so on the label's outfit Chromatics. Previously a dodgy punk band, Chromatics saw the light and slimmed down to the three piece we have now (Johnny Jewel - also half of other IDIB music makers Glass Candy - Adam Miller and vocalist Ruth Radalet), totally changing their musical direction on the way. Dreamy, sensual, atmospheric "Night Drive" sounds like another re-discovered gem from the Daniele Baldeli era, right down to the Kate Bush cover version.


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