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Mish Mash

Irish Release March 24th
Data Records (Ministry of Sound)

If you’ve spent any time in the vicinity of a discotheque recently, you’ll immediately know Speechless. Containing more booty than Beyonce’s back end; enough funk to backcomb Sly Stone’s afro; and more glamour-hugging disco than Bianca Jagger and her white horse could ever have handled, it’s already slayed forward-thinking club heads. In 2006, thanks to a mighty push by Data, who have chosen Speechless to mark their release centenary, it’s aiming for the hit parade jugular….

Some things, irrefutably, get better with age: like Keith Richards, a smashing bottle of red wine and Uma Thurman. Yeah, the kids are alright and all that, but as someone far wiser than us once said, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Think about the long game…which is something that Oscar Fullone and Kasper Winding have done. It hasn’t precluded the pair concocting the most ludicrously flamboyant and utterly magnificent dancefloor track for many a year. Quite the opposite in fact!

Originally released last year on Damian Lazarus’ Crosstown Rebels fledgling label, Speechless leaves you exactly that. Upon first listen, you’ll swear it’s an old Salsoul or Prelude track, or even a bootleg, such is its infectious recognition factor.

Could it be a lost Paradise Garage favourite? It has echoes of Wacko Jacko, circa Off The Wall; if you cock your ear far enough it could be culled from the marvellous Beverly Hills Cop OST; hang on, isn’t that Chaka Khan singing atop?

The answers are: no; yes it does, but it’s nothing more than coincidence; ditto; and, undoubtedly a compliment, but again, no.

So who is the mysterious ensemble behind Speechless? Well, Oscar and Kasper are what people in the biz call ‘lifers’. Oscar has been in and around clubs since the year dot: one of Scotland’s original acid house converts, whether it be DJing at the Sub Club or The Arches or releasing three of the first ten Soma tracks, his passion is no mere fashion.

Likewise, Kasper. A classically trained musical prodigy hailing from Denmark, he wrote his first film score at 13; joined a radio orchestra at 14; was a session drummer in New York for the likes of Teddy Pendergrass and Terry Riley; and has released his own music in various bands and solo projects.

Separately, their musical pedigrees are impressive. Together, they’re a kind of post-acid house supergroup, if such a term didn’t sound too pompous, so let’s settle for an unstoppable duo. An unstoppable duo free of all musical restrictions and free of all fashionable bullshit.

The pair originally met through their lady friends, both actresses. At first they would “talk about music, building up a friendship,” (Oscar), then came making the music.

For the last 10 years, Oscar has been constructing the club night Mish Mash, a kind of open-ended musical discussion with the dancefloor – “I felt restricted by playing just one style of music all night,” he reflects. So he took matters in to his own hands - Mish Mash is famed for its wide and wonderful musical policy.

How did Mish Mash the artist come to pass? One night when playing in Paris, an old acquaintance and singer Lois came down and started freestyling over an old disco track, and voila, the die was cast. Mish Mash was go. Vocalist Louise Norbye aka Lois hails from Copenhagen, with a background that takes in ballet dancing and performing as a singer and actress in Denmark and beyond. She worked with Kasper on her very first album in ’98, and was an obvious choice to complete the trio. Oscar’s wife then scribbled down some lyrics, and he and Kasper entered the studio.

“The only rule,” laughs Kasper, “was to go really overboard, that there was to be no turning back. It had to be fun and put a smile on your face…”

“But we wanted it to be quite dirty as well,” interjects Oscar. “The re-emergence of that New York disco sound was perfect: there had to be a darkness to it. We wanted it to be big – big strings, dramatic all with a dirty groove.”

“Chic was an inspiration,” recalls Kasper. “And Studio 54.”

There’s more…

Kasper: “We wanted to make something that wasn’t there anymore. A lot of dance music nowadays has the song missing: there’s great grooves and great sounds but the songwriting has been neglected. We wanted to make a track that worked as equally well in a club on Saturday night, as it would listening to it at home on a Sunday morning.”

In the most simple of terms Mish Mash, the act had become the artist incarnation of Mish Mash, the club.

Certainly ambitious, Speechless carries it off with pomp and grandeur: a big disco record for 2006, adorned with monumental peaks and ecstatic troughs, laser guided strings and one mighty hypnotic vocal. Who would have thought it?

So what’s next for Mish Mash? A live project is certainly on the cards, an album a certainty, as Oscar concedes, “all the ingredients are there”.

“Lois is up for it, Kasper is immensely talented and to combine that with the club world…” his voice trails off, as if in awe of the possible combinations.

And what about those that say music is a young man’s game? To coin a popular phrase, balderdash and piffle.

“Music is my life,” says Oscar. “We’re bringing a very youthful approach to it actually, we’re looking to stretch the boundaries, and we’re always happy to learn new stuff. We’re fresh as daisies.”

“You know what?” asks Kasper. “I was very lucky, when I was younger the times were a lot crazier than they are now. It’s very conservative today. It’s not me that has the catching up to do!”

Speechless? You will be.


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