Punica Fides

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After a prolific string of singles and remixes that followed his 2009 album Horror Disco, Italian producer Bottin returned with an album that swerved away from the Italo-disco sound he'd been re-creating admirably and toward something poppier, less retro, and more House-inspired. 2014's Punica Fides bubbles and bounces from start to finish, working as a compilation of great dancefloor-filling singles and also as an enveloping listen-at-home (or in the car or on the train or in the office) experience. Bottin uses only the warmest-sounding synths and perkiest drum machines, occasionally adding vocals, but usually letting the keys do the melodic heavy lifting. The vocal features are the easiest songs to latch onto, with Visage's Steve Strange adding urgent New Wave crooning to the swooning "Poison Within," fellow Italian Rodion adding some robotic vocals to the Giorgio Moroder-inspired "All for One," and Lavina Claws sweetly singing the funky album closer "Lies (Reprise)." Bottin himself lays down some vocal work on the insistent "Spacetime Syndrome" and acquits himself nicely. The rest of the album flows perfectly with happily percolating jams like "Lust for Deception" and "Plastic Forgery" rubbing up against '80s-inspired robo-disco ("Dirty Continuum") and pulsating techno rock ("Flow of Persuasion"). Bottin isn't reinventing the electronic dance music wheel on Punica Fides and every sound one hears on the album has been heard before somewhere. What he does do is craft an invigorating and fresh-sounding hybrid out of the pieces he borrows and grafts together, making sure everything sounds great and also spending time on songcraft and dynamics. He may have made his name in a somewhat kitschy fashion that was maybe a bit too in love with Italo-disco; with this album he's made a leap forward both in sound and in direction.

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