Dancing in Outer Space

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This compiles the entirety of the material that Atmosfear released on the Elite label, an independent run by the band. Elite would later launch the career of Level 42, but DJs who spin classic disco know Elite as the label that spit out Atmosfear's "Dancing in Outer Space" (the title didn't seem nearly as hackneyed back then, before the days of sloth-hop-heavy chill-out comps), a jazz-funk instrumental with its intention firmly aimed at the dancefloor. Its raw production and slightly amateurish execution actually place it closer to post-punk groups that sprouted up around the same time or shortly thereafter -- namely ESG and A Certain Ratio. It has more in common with those groups than Roy Ayers' "Running Away," for instance, but one listen to the song's loping bassline and spacious qualities will tell you why it remains a DJ favorite. Atmosfear would never match the song, but the remainder of what's compiled here maintains an adequate level of quality. 1982's "Xtra Special" nearly matches the title track; it sees the group moving into vocal terrain and sounds like a lost gem from early-'80s R&B station play lists. This is the group's definitive compilation.

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