Alex Franchini and Dan McKie didn’t pull any punches when they were structuring 1980 Recordings’ new compilation album Ibiza Opening Party 2018, which offers us a look into some of the label’s most talented artists’ identity and shared journey towards sonic nirvana. In a lineup that features the neo-industrial sounds of A-Drex, the throbbing club beats of Franchini and DirtE’s almost gothic trance rhythms mashed into a pot of mind-bending electronica, the party never seems to stop on this record, and it’s come at the most appropriate time. Fans of old school house music and techno that grinds as hard as it sweats will find that 1980 Recordings isn’t just posturing to be the “it” label of the 2020’s, they’re already making strides to eliminate their European competition before the race for decade-dominance even commences.
Although it takes a minute to get going, it’s near the end of the implied first act of the album that we start to get into the meat and potatoes of this comp. Luca Lento’s remix “Burnin Desire,” fired head on towards us at a blistering 125 beats per minute, serves as the biggest shot of pure adrenaline in the first four tracks on Ibiza Opening Party 2018, but it’s equally matched by Franchini’s blistering follow up “Andalo,” which takes us spinning into a psychotic whirlpool of gritty percussion that minces us into little pieces for Alex A to string back together in “Solar,” remixed here by Dave McGoff. By this point if you’re still feeling the pulse of energy that’s driving the cohesive progression between the tracks, there’s no stopping the momentum that Sterbai’s “All of Us” catapults through the stereo with a catharsis not unlike the proto hip-hop of the late 80’s New York underground.
While this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, listeners with a keen ear will notice that each one of these tracks was carefully arranged to maintain a certain wall of sound quality that is intentionally overpowering to take in all at once, not unlike chugging a refined glass of Scotch whiskey. This is slow sipping music for arts intellectuals, which is ironic due to this album’s overwhelming commercial appeal to the masses. “Club music” as we (crudely) know it is infinitely marketable to virtually anyone who enjoys a solid beat that inspires as much emotional connection as it does physical reaction, and Ibiza Opening Party 2018 is thoughtfully constructed with that market in mind. Even when taking that into consideration, there’s something uniquely independent about Dan McKie’s roster of musicians that makes me, and probably some of my fellow critics, feel like they’re getting away with something on this album. If something this amazingly palatable can still maintain an indie credibility, then there is actually a lot to be excited about for this label moving forward.
Ibiza Opening Party 2018 does just what its title implies; 1980 Recordings and its capable commander Dan McKie are ready to pull the trigger on a new epoch in the history of popular music, and these artists aren’t wasting any time laying out their battle plan.