On 27 February 2012, Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express was released. This was the latest instalment in a highly successful series that began in March 2009, when I came across the first volume of a new compilation series A Guide To 21st Century Disco, which was the first volume in what would become the Future Disco series. Straight away, I was hugely impressed with this new twist on disco. It had given disco a makeover for the twenty-first century, introducing the listener to new artists with a new take on disco. Over the next three years, and four volumes of the Future Disco series, the Future Disco team would release compilations of disco for the twenty-first century, with each volume surpassing the preceding volumes for quality. Then in 2011, I wondered whether could the Future Disco series get any better, given the quality of music the first four volumes contained. This is the question I asked myself when Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express was released. However, before I tell whether Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express managed to do so, I’ll tell you about the history of the Future Disco series.

A Guide To 21st Century Disco was the first volume in the Future Disco series. This was disco for the twenty-first century, but music whose roots were firmly in classic seventies disco. Artists included Hercules and Love Affair, Holy Ghost and Beyond The Wizards Sleeve had me hooked. Straight away, I realized that this was a series and label to watch. I decided to follow Future Disco’s progress with interest, awaiting the next installment of the Future Disco series. Thankfully, I didn’t have long to wait.

Later in 2009, just six months later, volume two was released in September 2009. This was The Extended Future Disco Mix, which was compiled by Sean Brosnan. Here, Sean had reedited, remixed and extended the tracks, resulting in the perfect material for him seamlessly mix. With remixes from Todd Terje, Greg Wilson and Friendly Fire sitting comfortably beside tracks from Faze Action, Crazy P and Juan McLean, this saw the compilation named iTunes Dance Album of 2009. Given the competition, the Future Disco team had been up against, this was a compilation series and label to watch. However, could they keep up the high standards they’d set with the first two volumes of the series? 

Volume three of the Future Disco series was released in May 2010, and featured another sixteen tracks of twenty-first century disco, but with a more uptempo style. Future Disco Volume 3-City Heat, certainly didn’t disappoint, taking the series the next level. On the album were tracks from some old Future Disco familiar faces and new names. Crazy P, Todd Terje and Sean Brosnan were familiar faces responsible for a trio of great tracks, while Ilija Rudman, Lindstrom & Christabelle and Nick Chacona were just three of the other artists responsible for another trio of highlights from Future Disco Volume 3-City Heat. By now the Future Disco team had released three successful compilations, with no sign of the quality faltering or falling. Instead, it seemed that they were succeeding in improving the standard of music with each installment of the Future Disco series, but could this continue?

Future Disco Volume 4 – Neon Nights was released in 2011 and saw the style of music become much more uptempo. The album was a two disc set, with the mixed disc featuring sixteen tracks and the unmixed disc ten full length tracks. This was my favorite release in the series. Although though Future Disco Volume 3-City Heat had been really good, this was even better. Instead of one disc, there were two, with the unmixed disc allowing the listener to hear ten tracks in all their glory. The compilation featured tracks from Holy Ghost, Mario Basanov, Bad Rabbits, Hot Chip and Kaine featuring Kathy Diamond, with each track disco for the new millennia. Truly, the Future Disco team had surpassed themselves, and I remember thinking how do they better this? So when I saw that the fifth volume in the series was due out on 27 February I awaited Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express with interest.

Having received Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express, I was intrigued, could the Future Disco team do it again? Could the music match or even better that on 2011s Future Disco Volume 4 – Neon Nights? Again it was double album, with disc one the mixed album, featuring nineteen tracks, while disc two, the unmixed disc featured eleven full length tracks. Among the tracks were Crazy P Presents The Syndromes, Miguel Campbell, Cosmic Kids, David August, DJ T, Mario Basanov, and Joakim. Nine of these tracks were remixes, with Sean Brosnan the man who’d weave his way through the nineteen tracks on the mixed album. His mixing is tight and seamless, as he glides through the tracks. Quite simply, Sean who compiled the compilation, is a multi-talented guy, not just a hugely talented DJ, but one with great taste in music. If this is a taste of one of his DJ sets, then he’s definitely a DJ to hear live. Having listened to Sean’s mixed disc, it’s now time to reveal what the music on Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express sounds like and whether it can either match or better that on Future Disco Volume 4 – Neon Nights?

My first choice from Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express is Tensnake’s Need Your Lovin’ with the version chosen the Tiger & Woods Remix. Written by Marco Niemerski and released in 2011, the track opens with a combination of punchy, soaring vocals, pounding drums and synths, with filter added. This works well, taking the edge of the sound, while adding to the sense of anticipation. You wonder which direction the track is heading in. Then, after a minute, the track takes a dramatic turn, as it eventually starts to reveal itself. It’s a myriad of drums, keyboards and synths with the vocal ever-present. Later, filters are used, while crisp handclaps give way to pounding drums and the vocal, before keyboards reenter. When the sweet vocal reveals itself its swathed in filters, with the keyboards and drums provide a powerful backdrop. By the end of the track, Tensnake has taken the listener on a journey through electro, disco and house, with the delivery matching the earlier anticipation…and then some.

Miguel Campbell wrote and produced Something Special which was released in 2011. It was the B-side of Miguel’s Baby I Got single for the Hot Creation label. On this deep house track, there is an excellent female vocal, which is accompanied by crisp beats and dramatic, almost dark keyboards. This provides a contrast to the impassioned vocal, which makes this such a great track. With stabs of beefy sounding keyboards joining the arrangement, it’s a track that draws you in with its infectiously catchy, summery, feel-good sound. Truly, this is one of the real highlights of Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express.

Maxxi Soundsystem’s There’s No Love is a track from their Make Or Break EP, released in December 2011 on Needwant Recordings. This is another slice of deep house. Here, the drums really pound, while dark keyboards accompany the vocals and handclaps. The tempo is 122 beats per minute, with the male and female vocals feeding off each other. Meanwhile the drums are at the forefront of the arrangement and the stabs of keyboards add to the track’s drama. Together, they all contribute to the track’s glorious deep house sound.

When you hear Metronomy’s Corinne, it’s hard to believe this was made by a Joseph Mount a musician from Devon, given its Germanic sound. It was released in 2012 on Because Music, and is a fusion of electro and synth pop. You can hear his influences straight away, with LFO, Aphex Twin and Autechre a trio of artists how inspired him. The version chosen here is the Mario Basanov Remix. Opening with pounding beats, before synths enter, their sound is dark, sitting well with the drums. When the vocal enters, it’s enveloped in filter, sounding continental, with the delivery punchy, as it drifts in and out of the track. Later a synth solo enters, which has a real old school sound. Like the female vocal that then enters, it’s accompanied by pounding drums, percussion and reverberating synths. Although quite different from other tracks I’ve mentioned, I love this track, with its retro sound that fuses electro and synth pop. 

DJ T’s City Life featuring Cari Golden was released on the German label Get Physical Music in July 2011. Here, the Maceo Plex Remix is chosen, which features the vocal delights of Cari Golden. This track sees Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express heading down the Tech House route, with this track a prime example. Accompanying the combination of punchy drums, percussion and dark keyboards are a joyous vocal from Cari, It gives the track a contrast sound to the real Tech House sound of the arrangement. Together with a combination of quick, stabs of keyboards, handclaps, punchy drums and Cari’s vocal, seven and a half minutes of tremendous Tech House unfolds irresistibly.

The last track I’ve chosen to mention from Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express is Penguin Prison ‘s Multimillionaire, which has a real Kraftwerk sound when the track opens. This is a track from Penguin Prison’s debut album Penguin Prison, which is US DJ and producer Chris Glover. The version chosen is Prince Language Instrumental Remix, which I’d best describe as a sophisticated slice of synth pop. During the track there’s everything from cascading strings, flourishes of piano, percussion and crisp drums, and of course, plenty of synths. Against the backdrop of crisp, crunchy beats the synths are central to the arrangement, with their sound timeless, while the piano and strings add a sophisticated twist to the track. If this is representative of what Penguin Prison’s music sounds like, then I’ll need to investigate their music further, as this is one the best tracks on Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express.

Earlier in this review, I wondered whether Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express could either match or better the quality of music on Future Disco Volume 4 – Neon Nights? Well, I’m pleased to say that the Future Disco team, and Sean Brosnan especially, have surpassed themselves. This is by far the best in the five volumes of the Future Disco series. Now given how competitive and crowded the compilation market is, and how hard it is to constantly discover new music of high standard, then Sean and everyone at Future Disco deserve congratulated for producing such a great compilation. After five volumes, the Future Disco series is still going strong, while many other compilations have fallen by the wayside. Although it’s less than a month since the release of Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express on Needwant Recordings, I’m looking forward to the next volume. So, if you want to hear disco for the twenty-first century, then there are five volumes of the Future Disco series awaiting your discovery, including Future Disco Volume 5-Downtown Express. Standout Tracks: Miguel Campbell Something Special, Maxxi Soundsystem There’s No Love, Metronomy Corinne and Penguin Prison Multimillionaire.


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