In a fit of hyperbole I once asserted that if you took pretty much any band or track in the world and added Nancy Whang, it made it better. Whilst I’m not entirely sure I can see that standing up if you were to route through the the catalogue of Beatles, David Bowie or Led Zeppelin it’s hard to argue with the touches of brilliance she has applied to the work of LCD Soundsystem, the Juan Maclean and Soulwax over the years...
This new solo release for Gomma puts my theory to the test, with Nancy providing remixes of a handful of classic disco tracks, all delivered in collaboration with other producers. First up is her cover of Dennis Parker’s Like An Eagle, a track I have to admit I can’t help but feel I’ve heard too many times. Here Whang works with Audiojack to give it a robotic rework with autobahn-like rhythms and squelchy synths. Elsewhere Comme Un Aigle is an alternate take on the same song, this time sung in French and produced in collaboration with Etiene de Crecy. This latter version feels like a late-80s techno classic, and Whang’s vocals have more room amongst the analogue synths and 808s, conjuring up something that sounds both human and alien. In listening to this I can’t help but be reminded of Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin’s best work together. The slightly raw, minimal sound is fitting, stark and beautiful.
Donna Summer’s Working The Midnight Shift is given a cool reimagining full of rounded, tough basslines and Whang’s mournful vocals. Two versions with Bonar Bradberry are included - a disco version full of campy Giorgio Moroder synths and arpeggiated melodies complimenting the main mix in delivering another nugget of disco euro-trash joy.
Kiss classic I Was Made For Loving You is the new single and features here as a Semi Skimmed Version, in collaboration with Drop Out Orchestra. The result is a dizzy, slightly Balearic and slightly more debauched disco house track with loose, laid back guitars and a echo heavy drum beat. My first introduction to this track was the cover version by Queen of Japan on 2 Many DJ’s cult classic As Heard On Radio Soulwax - a mix so perfect for the lyrical content that when I heard the original it felt like it lacked bite in comparison. Whang gets as close to matching that feeling as is reasonable to expect.
The final reimagined track is Parliament track Flashlight, with disco re-edit master The Revenge working alongside Nancy to create a surprisingly abstract electro-influenced number, basslines bounce against clean synths whilst Whang’s vocals reverberate and swirl.
Nancy might not turn everything she touches to gold, but given the calibre of the source material here she certainly gives it a golly good go.