If you’ll excuse the cliché, Giorgio Moroder is a legend. His legacy as one of disco’s elder statesmen is irrefutable and tributes have been paid to his work through many sects of modern music (including “Giorgio By Moroder” on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories). Moroder’s ability to meld pop with the dance genre is one nigh-unmatched and when he announced the release of his 2015 record Déjà Vu – his first since 1985 – there were many questions surrounding his prolonged ability to write music.
Over the years, the list of Moroder collaborations has become a ridiculously comprehensive ‘Who’s Who’ of musical greats; spanning many genres. Freddie Mercury, Berlin, David Bowie, Elton John, Bonnie Tyler, Daft Punk and Philip Oakley (the list goes on) have all worked with Moroder and with Déjà Vu, the list continues to grow. Featured vocal contributions from Kylie Minogue, Sia and Charli XCX illustrate the disco legend’s appreciation for pop stars of all ages and their appearances all involve an amalgamation of styles.
An example of this is especially prevalent on the album’s lead single. As with much of dance music, themes are light-hearted. “Right Here, Right Now” featuring Kylie Minogue, is one of these light-hearted tracks. Minogue’s music usually deals with love in its many forms (or so my girlfriend tells me) and this Déjà Vu track doesn’t break this trend.
Its introduction with a hefty bass track that sounds rather ‘talk-box’-ish is catchy and its euphoric descent into a shameless club track is fitting as a typical night out involves thinking that “there’s nowhere else but right here, right now” as you down enough booze to knock out Charlie Sheen. It’s tracks like this that illustrate how much Moroder has absorbed over his long career.
Moroder’s production qualities are what have spurred the great’s career and the possible effect of his age has been called into question since Déjà Vu’s announcement. In response to this, the aptly titled “74 Is The New 24” pokes the bear in a rather gratifying fashion. The well-produced almost-instrumental (with a bit of vocoder here and there) shows that the producer is still forging new music from his aging influences in a music world where disco is seeing a resurgence.
Some could read this as Moroder re-living past glories with minimal work, but what is clear on “74 is the New 24”, “La Disco” and the opening track, “4 U With Love”, is that he has managed to polish his established sound and has modernized it to a point that this album forms something that speaks to denominations who were exposed to his music in the ’70s, ’80s or in the ‘90s.
To display this love of pop music (both old and new), features are found from singers who are both well established and only just starting out in the industry. Representing the former are pop music giants Britney Spears and Sia – both of whom have had incredible chart success. “Déjà Vu” featuring Sia has a definite air of “Chandelier” and Spears’ feature on “Tom’s Diner” (a cover of the Suzanne Vega track of the same name) both hold a significant weight to them, but this weight is also true of songs featuring up-and-coming singers Charli XCX and Foxes.
As previously mentioned, Moroder expertly manages to accommodate the signature styles of his guests. Foxes’ appearance on “Wildstar” includes the strings (and string-like synths) that are present on such singles as “Youth” and “Holding Onto Heaven” while still remaining adamantly in the disco arena. This is also true of the dark wave influences that Charli XCX emulates on such songs as “Nuclear Seasons” and “You (Ha Ha Ha)” from True Romance as Moroder manages more of the same wizardry with “Diamonds”.
There will be criticisms angled at Giorgio Moroder and Déjà Vu saying that it’s “too safe”, but when the legendary producer is 75 and he’s still churning out music of this quality, “safe” should not be the term being bandied about. At this stage of a musician’s career, the idea isn’t to form a revolutionary idea to shake the music industry at its very foundations; it’s to form music that displays what they’ve learned over their long and storied career.
Déjà Vu exhibits this; and more besides. The combination of styles present and Moroder’s continuing ability to meld the old and new without missing a single step is nothing short of commendable. If I were in a movie theatre, I would instigate a standing ovation! Giorgio Moroder’s Déjà Vu is out now, purchase it here.
Words by Matt Hoyle