Italo House


Z Records continues to release high quality compilations filled with lesser-known disco, funk and boogie. Now it's the turn of Italo House to get the Joey Negro selection treatment with over 20 tracks hand-picked from the late '80s and early '90s, covering a lot of the deeper classics and some lesser known releases from a golden era of Italian dance music. "The late '80s were undoubtedly a golden era for dance music. A time which saw the birth of many genres and sub genres -- from acid house to hardcore to Balearic -- and of course, Italo house. If you ask Jo Raver to name an Italo house track, they'd probably come back with Blackbox, Jinny, Fiddlefatti, or one of many big piano tunes. Not surprising, as these became some of the first "hands-in-the-air" moments on many a dancefloor and even ended up crossing over into the UK pop charts. At the same time there was another equally distinctive sound coming out of Italy -- a warmer, deeper, more emotional style which didn't yield any commercial hits. Though I'm not adverse to the odd "piano screamer," I was much more drawn to the output of producers like Alex Neri and Claudio Mozart. The sound was more jazzy and soulful with syncopated percussion, dreamy pads and, though piano was often used, it wasn't in the obviously programmed, big breakdown style which became a cliché of the Italo house genre. This more underground side of Italo was closer to the original American house sound -- but still retained a very European flavor. As for the vocals, one of the fascinating things about Italian house (and in fact many British and US productions from the time) was the extensive use of U.S. a cappellas. It was a crucial addition to the formula. Though this album is subtitled The Deeper Side of Italo House, that is definitely the overall sound. Not all the tracks here are what I'd call 'deep' -- Montego Bay is more disco-style. M.C.J.'s distinctly upbeat 'Sexitivity' was maybe influenced by American vocal house like Crystal Waters, though both still fit in with the overall sound. One of the more popular songs was Softhouse Co's 'What You Need' -- piano house done with a little more panache than most. I'm glad this album exists for other people to discover or re-discover the deeper side of Italo house." --Joey Negro