2017’s ‘Metropoli’ was ITALOCONNECTION’s first album proper with their most recent long player ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ showcasing a collection of danceable widescreen European electronic pop at its best.

But for the new ITALOCONNECTION album comes a twist; ‘Nordisko’ pays tribute to the songwriting and style of the Nordic region via a collection of cover versions. The palette ranges from overtly pop focussed groups such as SECRET SERVICE, FAKE and ARMY OF LOVERS to modern day artists such as Jay-Jay Johanson and Jaakko Eino Kalevi.

“Vintage vibe – modern sound” is the mission statement of ITALOCONNECTION and ‘Nordisko’ certainly sees the duo of Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti continuing that adventure. To put the album’s approach into context, while Italo Disco has generally seen in the UK as a much-maligned Mediterranean form, it was very popular with holidaying Northern Europeans as the music acted as their escapist soundtrack from the chills of home. Indeed it was the German label ZYX that actually coined the term “Italo” as an all-encompassing description of European electronic disco pop while Sweden produced home grown exponents such as Paul Rein and Annie Anner.

Fast forward to today and Italo still reigns strong with newer acts such as CARINO CAT from Stockholm. Meanwhile Danish remixer Flemming Dalum is a respected historian appearing on documentaries such as ‘Italo Disco Legacy’ and Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen has always acknowledged the influence of Italo on his work.

A huge hit throughout Europe in 1981, SECRET SERVICE’s ‘Flash In The Night’ utilised the first LinnDrum Computer that arrived in Sweden and has since been covered by a number of acts including RATIONAL YOUTH.

Although more of a Euro synthrock crossover tune, ITALOCONNECTION provide an enticing homage as the opener with icy synths alongside an incessant backbone, highlighting the song’s melodic resonance.

Written and performed by Jay-Jay Johanson who also collaborated with THE KNIFE on the song ‘Marble House’, his marvellous 2002 tune ‘On The Radio’ is given an airy feminine disco flavoured makeover featuring Jaia Sowden on vocals. With absorbent sequences and glistening keys, it is a fine shape shift from the artpop original.

Of a more classic Italo bent with its octave shifts, CARINO CAT’s ‘Talk To The Hand’ possesses drive, but reinterpreting FAKE who were a Swedish band who recorded in Italy, ‘Donna Rouge’ is hypnotic avant disco with great hooks and marvellous counter-melodies as a well as a swirly synth solo. An ARMY OF LOVERS number which was produced by SECRET SERVICE in 1988, ‘When The Night Is Cold’ is presented with layers of chilling cinematics that exudes a Cold War menace that is also exhilarating.

‘Cairo C’ featuring another Italo veteran Francesco Rago is a tighter modern rework of Finnish combo DIGITAL DANCE who recorded just two singles back in their day and this resurrection of their material is a fitting platform for belated recognition. Remaining in Finland, Jaakko Eino Kalevi who released his first album ‘Dragon Quest’ in 2007 sees his ‘Flexible Heart’ from 2010 moved from the darker indie synth take on his ‘Modern Life’ to more club orientations with the longing of the lyrics twisted into something more hopeful.

With the airy voice of Saralunden on her own ‘Touch Me Now’ which was originally recorded in a New York electro style with another previous ITALOCONNECTION collaborator Tobias Bernstrup for their joint EP ‘Fat Boy’, Ventura and Gozzetti reshape it more for a European disco audience to conclude ‘Nordisko’.

While a cool melancholy naturally breathes over ‘Nordisko’, ITALOCONNECTION provide the elation while allowing the melodies to maintain an emotional centre that respects the songs’ original intent. As the cover illustrates, this is a mixtape of sorts and is just the tonic as Winter turns to Spring.

‘Nordisko’ is released by Mordisco / Blanco Y Negro in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from https://shop.blancoynegro.com/es/inicio/3252-italoconnection-nordisko-vinyl.html





Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd February 2023