Escort Service

October 26, 2006

The disco bros of Escort released their second 12" single this week, a little jam by the name of "Love in Indigo" b/w "Karawane". Pitchfork likes it, but don't let that dissuade you (WE KEED, WE KEED.) After the jump, check out Matt Schnipper's Gen F on Escort from FADER 41, on stands and PDF-ed now, and look out for the group as they bring their NINE PIECE dancestravaganza to a spot near you.

Taking Notes

Escort’s easily elaborate throwbacks

By Matthew Schnipper

Between the three of them, only two of the present members of Escort are wearing cabana hats, but all are drinking beer from the bottle, beach-style relaxed. We’re on a lounge deck talking about dance music—or more specifically, what brings people together to form a nine-piece orchestral disco band. It’s the end of summer ’06, and Escort has just released its first 12-inch single, “Starlight,” an elaborately faithful disco track where keyboardist Eugene Cho wiggles an analog keyboard theme as Zena Kitt (a vague Eartha relative, she tells me) belts out, Staaaaaarlight! I can’t stop thinking of you! There’s a little conga rumble underneath, some high-pitched strings, and suddenly it’s 1979—smooth and lovely.

Escort formed two years ago, meeting at parties, through friends of friends and Vassar alumns, essentially an instrumental project of Cho, guitarist Daniel Balis and bass player Darius Maghen. “We didn’t have a drummer even,” says Maghen, incredulously. Now they have two—the group’s membership exploded soon after those early experiments, coalescing into a modern ensemble of horns and strings, sheet music, auxiliary percussion, backups and session players. They recorded “Starlight” bit by bit, trying to live up to the “so, so, so clean” sound of vintage disco. “What we’re doing in a sense is sort of retro, but from a totally different perspective,” says Cho. The group successfully mimics the sprawling arrangements of 30-year-old songs—but their goal is not perfect reproduction but giving fresh life to old sounds, whether through smart mixing (“Starlight”’s b-side is a dub by Metro Area’s Darshan Jesrani) or Kitt’s effervescent vocals.

When Escort performed their single at the PS1 art museum in Queens, Kitt shimmied in a slim sweater dress, flanked by “her boys” and a fiery backup singer named Toy. “Uh huh, I like it! Uh huh, I like it!” she sang over and over. The song is proud, almost anthemic, and the atmosphere at PS1 is communal—“Starlight”’s heavily orchestrated disco managed to move an afternoon crowd of DJ fans surprised to look up and see a group of musicians crammed atop a staircase. “To be honest,” says Balis, “’Starlight’ is pretty trivial.” Of course he’s joking, but there’s a bit of goofy truth there, too.

Posted: October 26, 2006
Escort Service