ESCORT is big. Literally. The seventeen-member “disco orchestra”, founded by producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, and fronted by lead singer Adeline Michèle, features an incredible cast of musicians who have played with everyone from indie-rock titans Arcade Fire to avant-classical luminaries Alarm Will Sound. Their explosive self titled debut has garnered enthusiastic praise the world over and their live shows are legendary dance parties.
Escort burst on to the scene in 2006 with a string of critically acclaimed 12"s that included future classics "Starlight" and "All Through The Night", a pair of DJ staples that get still get plenty of play on dance-floors. As DJs nursed their electro-clash hangover with a seemingly never ending stream of disco edits, Escort stood out, in part, by creating dance music the old fashioned way: with impeccable production, musicianship, and songwriting.
The following several years saw them bring the same uncompromising approach to their live show. In an era where dance music is dominated by samples and computers, Escort took a sprawling ensemble to the stage and developed a reputation as one of New York’s most compelling live acts, capable of performing their elaborate recordings note for note. Their extravagant New York City shows prompted a cover story in the Village Voice declaring them "poised to become Gotham's premier live dance act" and reviews of their shows in Time Out New York and the New York Post auspiciously labelled them the "city's best live band."
Escort's debut LP finally arrived this past winter, the culmination of years of painstaking work in the studio. And the wildly enthusiastic critical reception suggests it was more than worth the wait. Pitchfork raved, "Escort isn't just the pinnacle of 21st-century of disco fetishism. It's a great pop album." Spin called it the "Best Disco Album of 2011… disco at it's urbane, hedonistic best." and Rolling Stone called it "a wickedly catchy, note-perfect return to the heyday of disco."
The entire album is steeped in the venerable tradition of clubland’s holy trinity — New York, Chicago, and Detroit — but it seems particularly reminiscent of mutant-pop luminaries such as Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Ian Dury, who somehow managed to translate their sardonic sensibilities to the dance-floor. And by embracing the legacy of these forward-thinking but classic acts, they have yet managed to create something strikingly new.
The LP’s opener “Chameleon” is a perfect example: a three-act play about the French serial impostor Frederic Bourdin, set to a beat that’s equal parts Thriller and the Tom Tom Club. The tracks, “Make Me Over” and “Why oh Why” seem to explore the lost possibilities of another era, rather than simply trying to re-create it. The 1937 standard “A Sailboat in the Moonlight” is twisted into a lost August Darnell classic. The album also includes the definitive versions of their 12” DJ releases — which have been remixed, remastered, rearranged, and re-recorded specially for the LP — to complete an album with absolutely no filler.
Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears recently described Escort as the “best disco you’ve ever heard.” He just might be right.