The Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra: Disco Supreme / Keep Believing (Al Kent Edits)
Far Out Recordings

The Far Out label's twentieth anniversary disco project, The Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra, issued a double album earlier in 2014 that featured arrangements by Azymuth leader José Roberto Bertrami (1946-2012) and Arthur Verocai along with other Brazilian musical icons. Twelve-inch remixes and edits followed, with figures such as Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittman, Mark Pritchard, and 4hero contributing to the series. It's now Glasgow-based Al Kent's turn to reinvent The Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra's material, which he does in the form of two long-form instrumental treatments. Perfectly tailored to the twelve-inch format, Kent's outing backs a thirteen-minute edit of “Disco Supreme” with a twelve-minute recasting of “Keep Believing.”

“Disco Supreme” comes out strutting, its congas-sweetened swing warmed by Bertrami's Rhodes playing. Instruments are added in stages, with bass and funky rhythm guitar lines joining the fray about two minutes along and soaring strings and triangle appearing a minute later. Using analogue gear only, Kent creates tension by repeatedly building the arrangement up and then stripping it down, and by continually shifting the focus from one instrumental grouping to another. At one moment, nothing more than congas and a kick drum are heard, while the next moment sees that combination replaced by a glorious episode featuring strings and Rhodes chords. It's an irrepressibly funky, exuberant, and joyous ride that in a perfect world would never stop.

“Keep Believing” might be slightly slower and heavier yet is no less funky and infectious for being so. Buoyed by a sunny piano melody, the tune achieves immediate lift-off and receives a powerful thrust from its funk bass line (provided by Azymuth's Alex Malheiros), chicken-scratch rhythm guitar, and silken strings. If there are moments during the ride that might make you feel as if you've been teleported back to a ‘70s disco ballroom replete with mirror balls and Afros, such moments are more than welcome when the music oozes such splendour and uplift in Kent's full orchestral rendering. In a word, fabulous.

January 2015