But inarguably the biggest draw in Hercules’ studio stable is unconventional underground celebrity, Antony, whose darkly reflective quaver brings melancholic eloquence to lilting opener, “Time Will.” His velvety androgynous tenor also buttresses “Blind,” a disco-beaten rumba given a snazzy treatment suggestive of Patrick Hernandez’s bustling ’78 dancehall hip-shaker “Born To Be Alive.” Its engrossing horn-ridged bass-boomed orchestration compares favorably to an innovative disco icon Butler holds in high regard – Italian techno-pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder, a forward-thinking producer whose clever manipulation of electronic studio gear, tape-looping machinery, and Epicurean faux-string adaptations preconceived the entire ‘80s club landscape that followed. He continues to be emulated by enthused modern day maestros. The bleating, bleeping, and braying intonations securing “Classique #2” edge close to the ample sidelong suites Moroder inaugurated for libidinous black diva, Donna Summer, disco’s primary glamour goddess.
Yet Butler shrugs off the thought of any thematic conception being put in place for Hercules entirety.
“I wrote a lot of the pieces isolated from each other,” he digresses. “But just the fact I’m penning the lyrics gives it a thematic subtext. However, some people said the last part of the LP dragged.”
While the easier-to-grasp hook-filled tunes strengthening Hercules front load score higher than the gratuitously noir-ish backend retreats, the expansive retro-futuristic experimental jams at album’s end do at least create an irrepressible rudimentary groove. Still, it’s hard not to be more impressed with the dazzling three-four punch of “You Belong” and “Athene.” The former features Nomi’s fluctuant scale-bending vocal scheme weaving in and out of a syncopated rhythm and the latter finds Foxman, setback in the mix, simmering invariably through a pleasingly percolating percussive pulse.
It’d be cool if Hercules & Love Affair hooked up with Heloise & the Savoir Faire, another ace New York City retro-dance combo. Both wordily designated outfits not only have an accessible dance rock tangent, but also a link to flaxen post-punk idol, Deborah Harry (of Blondie fame), who rapped on a few Heloise tracks and invited Nomi to sing backup on her latest solo album. So let’s hope for a future Hercules-Heloise-Harry midnight gala. That’d be special enough for any Greek God to venture down from Mount Olympus and attend. Until then…
This and John Fortunato’s many articles on music can be found at beermelodies.com.