This week’s Heal Yourself And Move—a biweekly column about dance and electronic music, written by Maryland’s finest, Andrew Field Pickering—tackles the crucial but overlooked work of Catholic, a lost project of major disco producer Patrick Cowley.
After what sounds like one of the sickest days in DJ record digging, the Honey crew from San Fransisco scored hard. Not only did they scoop up some killer 12-inches (fuuuuuck I can't even imagine) from the collection of one Johnny Disco, one of the earliest DJs in the 70's SF scene and part of the golden age of Megatone Records, but they found that fabled thing that all DJ freaks hope to someday find: MASTER TAPES.
Sometimes I have intense fantasies about finding tapes. It would be the best shit of all time to find something unheard from an era of music you dig, or in a particular style, or, even more mind-boggling, from one of your heroes.
So, in short, they found PATRICK COWLEY MASTER TAPES. Now, if you don't know about Cowley, he is a full-fledged disco legend that produced the remix of "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer (you know, that song) as well as a shmillion other 12"s, like his own classics "Menergy" and my personal fave "Sea Hunt". His work compells folks to leave youtube comments like this one, dropped almost 30 years after Cowley's untimely (he should have lived forever) death in '82, before AIDS even had initials:
"this song makes me thin[k] that I'm dead and that I'm on my way to the final place and that in the way I see mermaids and a cosmic beach with flying space seagulls , lesbian seagulls..."
So, yea. The dude did his thing.
He also did killer work with Sylvester and had other projects along the way, like producing the group Indoor Life. Indoor Life featured vocalist Jorge Sarrocas, and the two also worked on a complete concept album together (the aforementioned master tapes), which will see the light of day October 19th (Cowley's birthday) on Macro Recordings, from Germany. The album is called Catholic, and its basically a genre-bending collection of tunes from ahead of its time. I can't stream any audio on this site, but you should definitely go to the "Megatron Man" site and peep all the cuts (and fantastic written information) for yourselves. "Soon" is one of my faves, as it adds a creepy dose of Throbbing Gristle-ness to some slow proto-techno. "Room", another fave, is also on the slow tip; apparently Cowley could switch gears as a musician and producer whenever he felt like it. Some of the more energetic New Wave-y cuts are not my thing per se, but without a doubt compelling listens from the time period nonetheless. And "Robot Children" would already be a post-punk classic if a record label had gone for this album back in the day. Who passed on that one?!?!
As if hooking the world up with this album were not enough, Honey Soundsystem is holding a "living memorial" in San Francisco this Sunday, October 18th. The event is at Mama Calizo's Voice Factory from 6-10PM, and its free. After the intitial party, they will also hold a "living altar" to Cowley in the space for a month. Honey has been holding an open call for submissions of artwork and other fan memorials for Cowley, which will all go up in the Voice Factory. Honey has provided a lot more background and information for the memorial here.
And for a more intimate look into the collaboration between Jorge and Patrick, check out these youtube clips, which is a pretty comprehensive recent interview with Jorge: