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Superlife – Go Bananas review

We’re big fans of People’s Potential Unlimited at Juno Plus. The Washington DC based label overseen by dedicated crate digger Andrew Morgan pretty much stands alone in its remit to uncover, remaster and reissue obscure private press and rare 80’s American boogie and disco funk. Invariably there is always an interesting and historically relevant story to match the primitive yet infectious bump of the music.

The label’s latest, and perhaps most musically ambitious release to date in Superlife’s Go Bananas offers the chance to grasp what is essentially a precursor to Detroit techno, and surrounds it with some finely chosen remixes. Originally released in ultra limited quantities back in 1982, Go Bananas was the end product of a chance meeting between Superlife’s Danan Potts and a young Juan Atkins at the Recording Institute of Detroit where the latter was cutting his production teeth on a course. Inspired by witnessing Atkins’ approach to making dance music, Potts recorded “Go Bananas” swiftly and it’s clear to see how the dots between funk and the nascent Detroit techno sound are joined – all nonsensically fun vocoders, snapping percussion and squeaky textures.

This release from People’s Potential Unlimited has seemingly been in a gestation period for quite some time, recognition of their intentions first slipping across our radar last spring when noting Legowelt had been commissioned to remix “Go Bananas” whilst cribbing for an interview with the Dutch producer. Finally out, the finished product can’t help but impress with the double twelve inch pack housing not only the promised original and instrumental versions from the 1982 Southern Sun release as well as a remix from the Lowlands don but further efforts from the esteemed Peanut Butter Wolf, Steve Summers and Maxmillion Dunbar.

Elements of what makes Potts’ original so outstandingly quirky are retained by each of the producers to varying degrees – Steve Summers, for example, steers closest to the original, choosing to fill the spaces between the syncopation with plenty of his trademark layered synths. Similarly, Legowelt staples some metallic drum infractions and trademark burrowing Battlestar synth flourishes to the groove amidst a heavily delayed bottom end.

By contrast, Stones Throw boss Peanut Butter Wolf adds a sense of detuned menace to the vocodered refrain and throws it over a doom laden synth melody augmented by a degraded version of the beat from Caribou’s Virgo Four remix. The end results are revelatory and duke it out in this writer’s affections with the final effort from Max D. Whatever alias or group the Future Times artist chooses to record under, his talent for producing tracks filled with off kilter rhythms and layers of busy noise always shines through and is indulged fully on this brilliant remix.

Tony Poland