The Chicago housemeister returns with a new identity. Sweet!
Louis Pattison 2007-09-28
Felix Stallings is not alone in the electronic music circles of Detroit and Chicago in being rather partial to a pseudonym, but unlike his peers in the rather sober Underground Resistance circles, Felix – or, as he’s most popularly known, Felix Da Housecat – has always been quite partial to a more cartoonish, light-hearted dancefloor vision.
Here, Stallings adopts the persona of Virgo Blacktro, an electronic entertainer plotted in the mould of Prince, Sly And The Family Stone, and perhaps rather less predictably, George Michael and the Pet Shop Boys – electro in spirit, yes, but with a vocal presence and production gloss that places Felix more in step with modern disco revivalists like Armand Van Helden, Alan Braxe, or Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter than any slamming techno idiom.
So, the other side of a brief intro and an opening track, “Moviedisco”, which moves in the woozy, faintly hallucinogenic disco territory favoured by late ‘70s Italian film producers, this is largely a cheerfully, optimistic, permanently ‘up’ album. The pumping “Like Something For Porno” matches languid guitar licks, handclaps and a ecstatic female vocal that’s interrupted midway through by a couple of voices ripe for amour, while the excellent “Sweetfrosti” is a synth-spotter’s dream, shimmering and multi-layered with a strong early-‘80s flavour.
Many of the tracks here are compacted and quite short, giving Virgo Blacktro the quick, skippy feeling of a neatly-selected mixtape rather than an artist album that rather outstays its welcome. There is space for one epic, though, in the shape of “Tweak”, a five-minute disco stomp that builds to a thumping climax, like Josh Wink’s “Higher State Of Consciousness” recreated on the disco floor with a synth that squeaks like a deflating balloon. Going on this, one suspects the name Virgo Blacktro is one you’ll hear again, and again.