When you’re looking for it, you quickly realise there is an awful lot of drum-machine’n ‘synth music out there that implies the memory of a perfect summer sunset from a sandy beach covered in palm trees – all rendered in grainy VHS tape quality no less. So, when I hear – no, actually experience is a better word – experience a song like ‘Tape 1’, where you can pretty much feel the sun on your back, I pay attention.
‘Tape 1’ is the first track on Callisto, the latest offering by Italian DJ and music maker Sebastiano Urciuoli aka Robotalco to be released through Los Angeles label 100% Silk. For those unfamiliar, Urciuoli got his start making hip-hop and house mixtapes in Milian in the 90s, before decamping to the disco landscape to heat up dancefloors with a series of singles and edits as Club Silencio. In the 2010s, he reinvented himself as Robotalco, with a stated mission to explore, “liquid vibes, 80’s French industrial, futuristic house, and the intangible crossroads of Kingston and Detroit,” a crate-digger style of logic which turns up some well-listened results.
After ‘Tape 1,’ the beachy vibes on Callisto begin to break into a Caribbean dub techno configuration on the album’s title track, before pivoting into an acid bent on ‘Cuissardes Fatality’, touching dream house with ‘Day Dreamer’, and hitting an uptempo street boogie shuffle on ‘Bubble Rhodes’. As with ‘Tape 1’, a core characteristic of the ten tracks that make up Callisto is how correctly Urciuoli inhabits the forms he steps into. Be it the squelchy skip of ‘Freedub’, the dayglo syncopation of ‘Missaglia Jungle’ or the spacious clockwork rhythms of ‘Robodub 3’ as examples, Uriuoli’s understanding of dance music as a vehicle for dreamscapes, spellcasting, myth and magic lives in the pocket, and it makes an hour spent with this new offering more than worthwhile.
Callisto is out now through 100% Silk in cassette and digital formats (purchase here)