Hercules and Love Affair Hercules and Love Affair
  • WEDNESDAY, JULY 02, 2008

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Like a time machine to the past, or a look into the future, New York DJ Andrew Butler has made one of 2008's most talked about records. Why the chatter? It's not the disco, although the album is quite a tribute to dance music of the decade of Tab and Saturday Night Fever. It's not Antony Hegarty, who is the voice of most of the 10 tracks on Hercules. No, it's something else, a combination of forward thinking and nostalgia that bustles along to pulsing octave jumping basslines. It's the genuine surprise as I lay a foot tap to glitzy vocals and horns. It's a sign that maybe the American dance record isn't dead.

"You Belong" by any other standard would be a rip-off, or a cheap bit of throw back. However, on this record, its the perfect combination of classic technique and futuristic beat-smashing. The bass lines sound like something Justice would have cranked out with their moogs if they were around in 1974. The claps, high-hat ticks, bells, it all works. Most of the tracks take this aesthetic and run with it... "Hercule's Theme" and "Blind" add in some pretty well executed horn lines as well.
Everything is dripping with futuristic disco, a concept often mocked in film and TV. One which seems to work on a record... or this one at least.

"Iris" is a surprisingly refreshing techno ballad, even though the second half of the album kind of takes an awkward pace. But that's ok, opener "Time Will" might be the best part of the record. It proves Hercules isn't a one-trick pony. Not everything on this record has to be a dance track. The chant at the end is particularly good:

"I cannot hold/A half a life/I cannot be/At half a wife"

To make a truly notable record, you have to prove that you can be cohesive without being repetitive, and be interesting without over-killing your appeal. The balance is struck here, if not perfectly, then well enough to merit a thumbs up and a head nod... perhaps we can throw away the idea that American dance has bowed down to the radio giants of mainstream drab. Perhaps Hurcules will save the day. -joe puglisi

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