House music has gotten a bit of a bad rep over the last ten to fifteen years, and it’s not difficult to hear why. Between the overbearing repetitiveness of trance, the none-more-overdriven sound homogenisation of French “electro” and the simply boring minimalism of, yes, minimal, it’s very easy to forget that house was once a marginal art form that dripped pure funk.
The new album by Azari & III looks set to dress that balance, taking the sound back to its underground roots in the black, gay dance scenes of Chicago. Back in the mid 80s the original house-heads would congregate and wig out at Frankie Knuckles’ Warehouse club and Ron Hardy’s Music Box, to a soundtrack of European disco and proto-techno mixed up with American funk and electro and augmented by drum machine loops. Some of those kids went on to release seminal records on the legendary Trax imprint, among them Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard, Jamie Principle and even Knuckles himself.
Azari & III are the next logical progression of House music, as it inevitably gives up the gloss and returns to its rawer starting points. The synths and drum machines are raw and dirty, the vocals are ambiguous and androgynous but full to the brim with soul, and the songs are druggy, sleazy, and catchy as hell. The Toronto based four piece have just released their self-titled debut album, and the buzz built by their earlier singles is beginning to pay off with glowing critical reviews and a growing cult status. If you’re a fan of Hercules & Love Affair, then I can’t recommend this band and album highly enough. This is music designed to make you sweat, to jack your body, to vogue.
This is the video for Azari & III’s debut single, the highly catchy “Hungry For The Power”, featuring coke snorting yuppies, S&M vixens, murder and cannibal voguing zombies (NSFW):
Azari & III - “Manic”
You can buy Azari & III’s debut album here.
More Azari & III videos after the jump.