People often complain that “world music” is a term of erasure. To the lover of global musical traditions, it’s a sin to group the world’s sounds in an all-encompassing category. This way, we’re erasing the individual peculiarities of distinct musical cultures. I disagree. The music of the world unites us, it doesn’t divide us based on our borders. The funk is everywhere and nowhere. It courses through our veins, our life energy is rhythmic, and our hearts beat to a tempo. Music is universally felt.
I don’t need to speak a singer’s language to feel their conviction. Nor do I need lyrics. A guitar can sometimes communicate feeling better than our twisted tongues could even fathom. I felt this kind of instrumental music-to-heart feeling when I dropped the needle on the obscure Italian jazz-funk record “The Other Fantasy.” The smoothest sonic experience enveloped me and sent me into a state of oneness. It was the most grounding feeling. I couldn’t think about what I was hearing or why I was hearing it, I could only enjoy that it made its way to my ears.
Music breaks downs barriers in this way. “The Other Fantasy” by Ed Longo and The Applied Arts Ensemble is world music. It’s universally felt.
There’s not a lyric on this five-song, 26-minute, tidbit of an album, but the melodies sing. On the first song, “Love on the Line,” the purest jazz-flute glides over a tight backbeat with the most emotive flavor. The whole song embodies the warmth of a sunset, with syncopated, muted guitar that accents the precise grooves of each layered instrument. Let’s not forget the scintillating bassline, thumping alongside the drums to make the track breathe.
The jazz-funk and boogie feel of this record invokes the era of post-disco. Post-disco was a golden age born from the fragmentation of a previous golden age. Disco died down around ‘79 due to a backlash towards the genre. And with this, forgotten disco records made their way into $1 record boxes everywhere. Young artists scrapping for inspiration picked up these shattered pieces and crafted new sounds around its original essence. This birthed a more organic, less commercial genre that incorporated complex jazz scales and dirtier beats. It returned disco to its tribal essence, before it was sanitized for the palate of its commercially white audience. It fused disco with “world music,” incorporating indigenous sounds like samba and afrobeat to give it a new flair. In a sense, it liberated disco. Four-on-the-floor fused with every style imaginable to decentralize the groove.
The album was conceived in various recording studios around mediterranean Europe with a myriad of contributions. The eclectic inspiration bleeds through in the way the instruments feel like they’re fighting each other for rhythmic space. The bassist will start to solo, gliding up through scales with buttery swing, and then the keyboardist will invade, playing complex jazz runs, forcing the bassist to back off and play the root note. In this battle, everyone wins.
This is the music that should be playing during an ocean front, coked out, dance party. It’s so luxy. It’s so sophisticated. This music custom tailors its casual suits and smokes top-shelf tobacco in hand-rolled cigarettes. This is the sun-soaked sound of Italy and Mediterranean Europe, fused with euphonious, loungey jazz and modern disco. “The Other Fantasy” is the sound of paradise.
On the back of this project, a thematic summary reads:
“Conceived with a strong jazz-funk, fusion and boogie sound it has been conceptualized around the idea that the schizophrenia of the internet-age, the visions of Otherness (the undiscovered lands, the primitive happiness, the impossible love) permeate the collective consciousness and the idealized “Other” loses any correspondence with the physical world.”
This dense philosophical concept can be boiled down in one sentence. Paradise and sanctuary have lost physical significance, and the digital world is our new, “Other Fantasy,” where we reside in collective safety, echo chambered and entranced.
This album is that dimension.
Release date: February 4th, 2019
The Other Fantasy
Genre: Post-Disco, Jazz-Funk, Boogie Funk