A first attempt at describing “Wolfram” in a few words would be, and why not, “A male version of Sally Shapiro”. It’s a textbook argument: Wolfram is a man, has a deep and manly voice, the track over which he sings is retro –between house, Italo and Eurobeat– and the final result is as adorable (and at the same time as dirty) as Rebequita, who one day enters the Spanish Big Brother house and the next becomes a porn actress. But if you know even the slightest thing about Wolfram Eckert, you wouldn’t say he’s like a male Sally, because he was there before Sally Shapiro: it was on his label, Diskokaine, where “Disco Romance” (2006) was released, under his supervision and executive production –look for him in the credits as marfloW– and, judging from the sound of this album, maybe even having a hand in the production by Johan Agebjörn, discovering possible influences, and suggesting twists. The man behind the curtain.
“Wolfram” is, therefore, a record that sounds like him: it’s full of tunes that revive –without becoming Kitschy nor excessively reverential– the finest moments of synthetic disco. Wolfram doesn’t sound naïve like Shapiro, but encyclopaedic. A word of advice for those who felt disappointed when hearing Hercules & Love Affair’s “Blue Songs” and missed Andy Butler’s first album and its drag stuff: “Wolfram” could be the European equivalent to that masterpiece of American retro-house. “Euro” is a key concept here, and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about revisiting the European disco continuum from 1974 to 1993 in ten songs on one CD, from Moroder to Twenty 4 Seven’s Eurobeat, Corona and Haddaway. Haddaway coincidentally co-wrote and sings on “Thing Called Love”, one of the many stellar collaborations on the album. Others include Holy Ghost!, Hercules & Love Affair, SebastiAn, Patrick Pulsinger, Legowelt and, of course, Sally Shapiro: quite the line-up.
The result? Epic, and with its fair share of tackiness, as an honest revision of old school European disco music –especially the Italian kind– should sound. “Hold My Breath” has that delicious touch of extreme catchiness, and “Fireworks” is the one that leans towards the first vocal Chicago house the most –you can hear Andy Butler helping out–, only to move to the proto-Hi NRG of “Out Of Control”, which sounds like Stylo’o but doubly gay, and the cyber lullaby –between Italo and braindance; between Casco and Global Goon– that is “Roshi”. With “Teamgeist” he jumps to acid and Belgian new beat, and with “Norway” (SebastiAn giving it his all, hysterically) he recovers the cheese side of Italo –the Baltimora section– with dignity, the same way he showcases the tender side of Italo with “So Fine All The Time”, convincing and elegant. So it ends the way it started, with a double version –vocal and instrumental– of “Hold My Breath” (originally by Sally Shapiro) to close the circle and an album that, when it comes to retro disco in 2011, is definitely the business.