If My Mine’s Stone, discussed in this column two weeks back, is the type of ‘80s dance music which befits a party in a teen movie, the tracks found on Theme From Radius: An Italo Spacedance Compilation are more in tune with the cocaine-and-strippers aesthetic of the era, the type of music you might expect to hear wafting from a bacchanal taking place on a yacht in Monaco Bay. Part greatest hits compilation and part thudding DJ mix, Theme From Radius is one of the best ways to experience some of the liveliest dance music the era had to offer.
Those who are somewhat familiar with Euro club cuts from the ‘80s will be sure to recognize at least a few of the tracks on this collection, most notably the aforementioned My Mine’s “Hypnotic Tango” and Alexander Robotnick’s classic “Probleme’s D’amour.” But these tracks are not simply reproduced on Radius, they’re remastered to perfection: the unnamed DJs who worked on this mix boost the bass and add more of a crackle and snap to the drum patterns, with the latter track having its lyrics removed entirely to better streamline it into a congruent dance mix. The songs are sped up, slowed down and tinkered with in ways that preserve the glitzy ‘80s synth melodies while revitalizing their low end so as not to sound out of place playing at a modern house party.
Even if it had lost some of its studio modernization, the track selection on Radius would still be impeccable. “High Energy” and “My Forbidden Lover” stand out as a seductive one-two punch near the beginning of the album, calling to mind nothing if not entrance music for a blue dress-clad Michelle Pfeiffer vis a vis Scarface. “Ultimate Warlord” is a menacing-yet-campy disco banger with a unique goldfish bowl bass line (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it), and “Gimme Love” is like an extra-sleazy Giorgio Moroder B-side with a stadium rock drum beat that works way more effectively than it should. Though the tone of the mix remains consistent, the commitment to variety means that this (appropriately timed) 69 minute mix rarely slumps or wavers.
If you’re unfamiliar with Europe’s ‘80s house scene, Theme From Radius is an excellent place to start. If you’re interested in hearing some of your old favorites in a new context, Theme From Radius is a worthy artifact. If you’re just looking for something to warm up to (or cool down from) a night of trap bangers for your next house party, Theme From Radius has you covered there, too. It’s ironic that such a sterling archive of past music is itself out of print, but in an age where Italo Disco and its various genre siblings are gaining newfound respect, we may yet see a much needed reprint of this incredibly versatile, dangerously addictive compilation.
Christopher M. Jones is a comic book writer, pop culture essayist, and recovering addict and alcoholic living in Austin, TX. He currently writes for Loser City as well as Comics Bulletin and has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators for his minicomic Written in the Bones (illustrated by Carey Pietsch). Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.