A List of Things We Lost is the rare vinyl blog of the sometimes corporeal, always ephemeral Unbreakable Records.

Nothing posted here will be found on a compact disc. Links are lingering somewhere at the end of each post; go find 'em!

No commercial endeavor is implied or supported by the posting of this music, it is for personal enjoyment and consumption only.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008


In keeping with ALOTWL's current chronology, may I present to you: The 80's. And is there any better way to dive into the decade of clubbed-out, drugged-out commercial excess than a double album of disco? No, no there isn't.

Tantra was a short-lived but hugely influential multi-racial, mixed-gender Italian quintet that operated within the subgenre of "Cosmic Disco." Although the tracks themselves were often long and spacey, the epithet actually derived from the name of a club, "Cosmic," based in northern Italy. The acknowledged innovator of the cosmic sound was DJ Daniele Baldelli, who began straying from the commercial sound of current (1979) italo-disco and began incorporating rock guitars, heavy funk basslines, tribal rhythms, eerie electronics and the like into his club mixes, generally keeping the bpm's up around 120+. (He also played 45s at 33 & vice versa. Crazy europeans!)

Tantra released two full-length albums in Europe on Phillips in 1979: The Hills Of Katmandu and Mother Africa. These were then collected for the American market in 1980 as The Double Album [Importe/12 MP-310]. Produced by Celso Valli (aka Quelli Del Castello) - who's spoken of by those in the know on the same level as Giorgio Moroder - Tantra hits all the requisite cosmic moves, with thumping, droning rhythm figures and extended jams. As Brian Chin, editor of Discotheque magazine, observes in his liner notes, "Disco is changing music, constantly absorbing new influences and techniques," speaking of the genre as "a fresh and progressive one."

Of course, it probably helped if you were on some tasty drugs, as the band was:

I get my kicks daily / I'm friends with most of the big shots
I'm full of dope mainly / To cut out the stage flops ("Top Shot")

Smoke-scented breeze fills the trees / And you drift away ... On forever!
Sweet-smelling substances / Liberate fantasy / We're together! ("Hills of Katmandu")

The Hills Of Katmandu LP had one long track on each side ("Hills" b/w "Wishbone) and was the bigger hit of Tantra's two Phillips albums. Here, it bookends Mother Africa, which, as the title implies, dives even further into the tribal/cosmic funk of Hills, with the title track, "Su-ku-leu" and "Hallelujah". Unfortunately, the one thing that Importe/12 didn't preserve was the freaky -cool cover art of the original releases (you can peep those here).

Maybe Importe just wanted heads to trance out to the slightly intoxicating orange burst of the cover:
More likely, they couldn't get the rights to the artwork. In fact, it's apparently all but impossible to get in touch with whoever owns the rights to the music, too, which is why anything by Tantra fetches some nutso prices on eBay. This may also be because, whether you love disco or hate it, The Double Album is a creature of its own, with enough cross-pollination going on for everyone to dig.


fuzztunnel said...

Oy vey!

William said...

this Tantra record is fantastic. I feel like the key to spotting good spacey disco is looking for controlled song structures - this has great minimal grooves and builds. excellent shit.

Aleph.Mem.Shin said...

agreed, william. another good one is the "voyage" record, even though it's not so rare, hot-ass funky cosmic disco. rock it, a.m.s