Several years ago, in a galaxy not so far away, the first After Dark compilation was released, immediately introducing us to a wondrous world of dark, glamorous, glittery electronic sounds. The man behind the magic was none other than Johnny Jewel, the mastermind co-founder of gloriously-titled label Italians Do It Better. Launched in the early aughts, Italians Do It Better soon became well known for adopting, re-inventing, and reviving many of the classic dance elements of Italo Disco, the one-time forgotten genre into which Jewel helped breathe spectacularly shiny new life.
In 2007, After Dark debuted tracks from an impressive roster of fledgling label artists, including the aforementioned Chromatics and Glass Candy as well as Mirage, Professor Genius, and Indeep. Now, six years later, After Dark 2 has finally hit the scene, and the highly-anticipated follow-up compilation has already set tongues wagging. Dark, delightful, and– most important– danceable, After Dark 2 is a more than worthy successor.
There are certain hallmarks associated with the music of Italians Do It Better artists: drum machines, sleek synthesizers, dreamy atmospherics, and elegantly-navigated twists and turns. It’s stuff that would make Euro dance pioneer Giorgio Moroder proud, and it’s found on abundance on After Dark 2. Still, despite the compilation’s smooth, cohesive feel, each IDIB act maintains its own distinct vibe. Opener “Warm in the Winter” is nothing short of epic; the song is a soaring, sunlit dive through space courtesy of Glass Candy. Mirage’s “Let’s Kiss”– only their third released track, ever– is soft and romantic yet funky and futuristic in feel. Chromatics serve up several tasty morsels on After Dark 2, including the slick, cinematic “Cherry,” where singer Ruth Radelet wraps her sadness in a gossamer-thin, glam-noir veil.
The fab-from-start-to-finish After Dark 2 proves that Italians Do It Better, and Italo Disco itself, has already reached the highest heights of electronic music heaven; still, just like the skies, there’s really no limit. Viva Italia, indeed.
4.5 / 5 bars