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Animal Nature

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Album Review

Compared to Escort's self-titled album that preceded it by four years, Animal Nature comes across more as the work of a band than of a studio project. The entirety of Escort was driven by founding instrumentalist/production duo Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, and a portion was written and originally recorded before the vivacious Adeline Michèle, the singing and bass-playing dream of a ZE label fanatic, joined the lineup. The more collaborative Animal Nature trails numerous gigs, including a performance in front of thousands at the 2012 Montreal International Jazz Festival. Its base is the four original songs the band self-released on singles during 2013 and 2014, and each one is represented here, with the references to specific disco and post-disco artists and bygone production touches less obvious, a little more concealed than they are on the 2011 album. The MNDR collaboration "If You Say So" edges closer toward contemporary sounds while embodying the bounding, bursting spirit of early-'80s pop-R&B, while "Barbarians" switches between tight disco-funk and pounding drums that could trigger flashbacks to Black Blood's underground classic "Wela Wela." Their transformation of St. Vincent's "Actor Out of Work" into zipping electro-pop that resembles Aneka's "Japanese Boy" is here, too. All of the older material is upstaged, however, by "Body Talk," a gleaming compound of early-'80s boogie and early-'90s house in which strings sway through dancing piano, prickling synthesizer, and one of Michèle's most athletic vocals. "Helium," another new highlight, belies its title with a hard house groove and a rapid bassline, and a storming cover of Gino Soccio's "Dancer," recorded live, raises the temperature a few degrees and closes the album proper. The digital edition adds value with nine remixes, edits, and dub versions. Among them are a remix of "Cabaret" by Little Boots (whose "Satellite" was remixed by Escort), along with individual contributions from Metro Area's Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani. Some of the selections originally appeared on the singles.

Customer Reviews

Hands Down Fun - classic and classy

The band delivers time and time again. Though many of the songs have been on playlists for months now, the album delivers with great dance music from the Nu-Disco genre. Check “Barbarians” and the Yello - “The Race”-infused floor stomper “Dancer”.

What happened?

This is nothing like the first album. No heart. No soul. Poor compositions, redundant lyrics. I just saw their show in Brooklyn and the music was weak, even live. Left the show about 4 songs in. If they had a good producer and they presented this music, he would've said, "Nope. Back to the drawing board. These are not Escort songs. You are great. Now go write great songs, not mediocre ones."

If I Say So...

This LP is simply a pleasure to jam to from start to finish, and that's an extremely rare thing for me these days. The euphoric opener "Body Talk" and pulsating "Helium" take me back to my happy club days from the 90s. They just put me in such a great mood. Miss Adeline's vocals are sublime, and complement the music very well. I also enjoyed the variety of textures from the disco anthem "Barbarians", the slick pop "Animal Nature", to the Prince-y sounding funk of "Dancer". Do yourself a favor and BUY THIS LP. It's easily one of the best LPs this year-by far.

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Biography

Formed: New York

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

During the early 2000s, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Balis and keyboardist Eugene Cho -- musicians who met while attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York -- produced and remixed house tracks for the Brique Rogue and Stay True labels. In June 2006, after opting to move closer to house music's disco roots, the two hatched Escort with "Starlight," a contemporary disco single that could have passed for a fresh take on a lost Skyy 12". Recorded with the assistance of several musicians, including...
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Animal Nature, Escort
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