Glaswegian quartet AMOR is one of the greater, and darkly pleasant, recent surprises in dance music. Leader Richard Youngs (vocals, keyboards) needs little introduction to followers of experimental sound art, with a body of work spanning decades and encompassing hundreds of releases — from ruminative folk (1998's Sapphie) to mournfully piercing displays of noise and tape loops (Advent) and points in-between both introspective and maximal.
In recent years, Youngs has pivoted to more familiar displays of genre awareness, exemplified on the Eno-esque pop perfection of 2009's Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits. AMOR can be taken as a continuation of those feelers into the known world – this time, Loft-style mutant disco, straight out of downtown New York at the turn of the '80s. Far from appropriation, we find reverence. Joined by acclaimed filmmaker Luke Fowler (electronics, processing), jazz bassist Michael Francis Duch, and drummer Paul Thomson of Franz Ferdinand, Youngs leads a headlong charge, storm clouds overhead, into the crates of disco's past, with a stacked deck of creative minds and a timekeeper who steered the '00s post-punk revival to some of its greatest successes.
"Amnesia," the long-playing B-side to their second single, ably reconciles the hustle of dance rhythms with Fowler's digital manipulations. Duch's elastic, open-air acoustic double bass pillows against Youngs' application of minor-sustained piano chords and pensive, falsetto vocal passages which speak to memories of tenderness ("My heart feeling / Your future mind / My world mirrors / Your open sky") in another place, perhaps another planet. Youngs stretches the title of the track over bars of frenetic rhythms that come unsteadily to rest before surging again into the coda; life keeps moving onward.
How we dance can hold a mirror up to the times in which we live, and have lived, and those who came before us. That AMOR grafts dark-hued modern stressors onto a pulsing rhythm cannot be a surprise; through "Amnesia," they build a testament to the ways in which life just keeps going, no matter how bright or dark.
Higher Moment / Amnesia comes out Oct. 27 via Night School Records.