Dancing is a form of ecstatic movement; raves a collective communion. Free Love are pilgrims on an ancient trail: cosmonauts of inner space seeking unity on the dancefloor.
From their Full Ashram Celestial Garden (AKA their studio) sprung ‘Extreme Dance Anthems’, their second offering and follow-up to the SAY Award-nominated ‘Luxury Hits’. And suitably for a studio that shares space with both a church and a sex club, it delivers raptures of both the spirit and the flesh.
Opener ‘The Inner Revolution’ casts an uneasy murk, pierced with mewls and howls of internal conflict. ‘Bones’, the stand-out first single, muses on impermanence - “Neither you nor I will last” - Suzi soaring to the haunting upper reaches of her register, voice floating in from a far-away place.
Connection is explored throughout. The throbbing, insistent ‘Skin On Skin’, slips and slides over the subject of physical connection. Closing pieces ‘Everyone’ and ‘Everywhere’ concern themselves with blurring the boundaries between us (“I see myself in everyone…I lose myself in what’s to come”) wrapped up with delicious house handclaps.
The ideas of this record delve deep. It’s a direct response to a world that feels crueller and more callous than it ever did. Where the collective is cracked, and our synapses are overwhelmed with derisory, divisive stimuli.
Where, as the band have said themselves, “collective disengagement with the metaphysical has led us to treat other humans, animals and our environment like resourceful statistics, rather than something that holds any inherent value”.
It is a meditation on who we are, and how we relate to each other, cannily packaged in a dance record. Where ‘Luxury Hits’ was the yang, this is the yin. It’s more abstracted, less pop. Though equally vital, as halves of a whole. For the NRG exchange of dancing brings us all together.
‘Extreme Dance Anthems’ delivers more than its knowing title. It’s music to move both body and mind.
Words: Marianne Gallagher
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