Best Record feature: Afrodesia Episode One and Marco Salvatori interview

We were so enthused when previewing the release of Afrodesia’s debut EP on Best Record, we decided to reach out to Label Manager and Head of A&R Marco Salvatori to get the low down on the on the project.

Article written by Rocco Universal.

Best Record are synonymous with unearthing forgotten or hard-to-find treasures from the broad spectrum of Italo disco. Next month sees the release of Afrodesia Episode One, the first EP of original music the label has published for two decades. Unsurprisingly, it’s brilliant. They teamed up with Periodica Records to come up with something truly memorable - authentic but contemporary enough to sound fully fresh today. The 12 is produced by Dario Di Pace (Mystic Jungle) and Raffaele Arcella (Whodamanny), along with musicians Giulio Neri (Tenor Saxophone and vocals), Andrea Farias (Guitar), Davide Di Sauro (Bass) and the late George Aghedo (Percussion). Each of the four tracks is carefully composed and impeccably produced.

My picks for you to listen to here are ‘Deep Down In Zanzibar’ and ‘Orion Beat’, but rather than describing the tracks in my own words, I’ll let Marco (and the music itself) do the talking.

Hi Marco, thanks for taking the time to do this. Please tell us a little about the history of Best Record, what is the mission of the label?

The original Best Record was opened as a small record store in 1978 by pioneering DJ Claudio Casalini, it was a nice meeting point for many artists and deejays. In January 1982 the first release under the label came out, ‘Long Train Runnin'‘ by Tracks, but by the late 90s - due to the increasing loss of sales that afflicted the entire music business - it was forced to stop production of new titles.

In 2014 the label came back with limited edition reissues, featuring some Italian producers from the 70s and 80s that can be considered pioneers in the European disco scene, such as Pino Presti, Celso Valli, Claudio Simonetti, Rodolfo Grieco, Tullio De Piscopo, and many more worthy artists who brought the ‘Made in Italy’ brand worldwide. In October 2019 the label is back with the first new production after a very long time, ‘Afrodesia Episode One’.

Yes, we at Cosmic Tiger are super excited about the Afrodesia project and I’ll ask you more about it in a moment. So, we know the world of Italo disco is much more diverse than many people realise, what do you think characterises the Italo sound, or what sets it apart from, for example, US disco?

The world of Italo disco covers many genres - like electro boogie and American disco - but for many, the word ‘Italo’ is linked to a small bunch of cheesy songs like ‘I Like Chopin', that in many ways are UK pop-inspired songs, and are all characterised by bad spoken English! But, from my point of view, the most interesting Italo productions are the proto-house ones that inspired the American deejays from Chicago and Detroit and still today do that, like, Topo ‘Ba Ba Go Go’, Stopp ‘I’m Hungry’, Klein & MBO ‘The MBO Theme, Gang ‘KKK, and Tullio De Piscopo ‘Stop Bajon’, to name a few.

You’ve listed some of my favourites there! I also love the proto-house flavours, and that this often American-inspired music made in Europe would in turn go on to inspire the US house and techno pioneers. A great organic synergy. So are there any forgotten heroes of Italo that you feel deserve more attention, any pioneering artists or djs?

Yes, every year there are more forgotten heroes. Follow our forthcoming releases to discover them!

And how do you feel the music scene in Italy has evolved since the golden age of Italo?

After the golden age of Italo disco we evolved during nineties to the golden age of Italo house, and after Italo dance. But, in terms of sales, nothing will ever return as before.

With a new wave of Italian artists such as Mystic Jungle, Whodamanny, Nu Guinea, Aura Safari, Sofa Talk and Capofortuna releasing some great disco, funk, and jazz-inspired electronic music, from the outside it feels as though the music scene in Italy is the strongest it's been for a long time. Do you think this is true? If yes, what do you think is behind the revival? Or do you disagree?

I hope this list of names will increase because for a long time there was no room in the record stores’ shelves for so many Italian producers. However, in my opinion I don’t think of it as a revival - because Italy has always been a country rich with musicians and producers. They need only better worldwide exposition.

Now on to the brilliant new Afrodesia record. How did this joint-venture with Perodica come to life?

It all started about one year ago after a telephone call with Dario Di Pace from Periodica. We spoke about the Italian-Afro movement that lasted for few years during mid-eighties, counting a small bunch of songs - especially the ones produced at the legendary Les Folies Studios in Milan - like Roberto Lodola ‘Marimba Do Mar’, and the need to combine analog synths, drum machines, percussion and real acoustic instruments that is not so easy to find in today’s disco-oriented releases. So we planned that the first original new release on Best Record after a long time - it would have to be Italian made and would have to include all the ingredients we discussed.

Do you have any plans to release more original music you can tell us about?

Yes, Afrodesia Episode Two!

What is next on the horizon for Best Record?

Constantly evolving musical research.

Is there one Italo record you simply could not live without?

Gang ‘KKK’.

It really is an incredible record, way ahead of it’s time. Finally, is there anything else you would like to tell us about?

I want to thank you for your space on your in-depth music blog, I would just like to anticipate the upcoming Autumn releases for which I have dedicated a great amount of effort in search of the original master tapes, such as Cellophane ‘Music Colours’, Funky Family ‘Funky Is On’, and Plus Two ‘Melody/ Stop Fantasy’ .

Prego, Marco. You’re most welcome. Thanks for the great music!

Afrodesia Episode one is out late October. You can check the record and set up a release alert here.