Review: Bottin - Punica Fides


What a great album from Guglielmo "William" Bottin aka Bottin based in Venice, Italy. He presents his fourth LP out on Bearfunk after the concept album ‘Horror Disco’ (2009), I Love Me Vol. I (2004) and ‘Chilli Reception’ (2002) and builds on his disco track record with a fun album with guest appearances by none other than New Romantic luminary Steve Strange, lead singer and frontman of the band Visage, singer-songwriter Lavinia Claws and long-time collaborator Rodion.

According to Bottin, “Punica Fides is a Roman expression that means "treachery". The concept behind the album (made clear in the song titles) is manipulation, falsehood, seduction (and the will to be seduced knowing it's a lie), propaganda but also parody and satire. I think music (and especially dance music) is always also a parody. A dance track is a parody of itself and of other tracks that came before it. The album is not as soundtrack and nostalgic as ‘Horror Disco’ was, I think this is a musically diverse album which ranges from synth-house, dark electronica, neo-new-wave dystopian landscapes, space disco and Italo disco. I suppose it's more of a dance record, which reflect the past 5-6 year touring the world as a DJ, as well as the will of creating my own musical bubble.”

Does the music meet up to the concept then? In Bottin’s case, the short answer is “Yes.”

Opening with ‘Lies’ and ‘Flow of Persuasion’, both tracks generate anticipation for the rest of the album to unfold. When the first vocal track ‘Poison Within’ featuring the famed Steve Strange arrives, we are brought into 80s new wave pop sensibilities, and what a treat it is to hear a legendary voice belting out a catchy, sing-along for those old enough to know Visage yet young enough to enjoy this modern interpretation. There are several versions of 'Poison Within' including an instrumental, radio edit and Dutch duo Mason available. Next, ‘Lust for Deception’'s scale-based melody proves a bit too much for this listener, although the bass line and overall groove will be a kicker in the clubs.

Standouts include ‘All for One’, his collaboration with Rodion, 'Plastic Forgery' (which you can see his really cool and inventive homemade video) and the straight-up ‘Spacetime Syndrome’, a fitting song signalling almost the end of the album. Optimistic bright chords and refrains that seem to just bounce gleefully off each other in a 3rd dimension create an uplifting hit that deserves to be aired as much as possible.

Ending the album intelligently with a vocal version (Reprise) of the first track ‘Lies’, featuring Lavinia Claws, the album ends just as it started with. Although this time, a dirtier incarnation with Lavinia’s haunting Lolita voice and a bass delay.

Throughout the album, Bottin’s talent is evident during the breaks, when a different side, even an underside of the tune is discovered. To me, these breaks such as in the tracks ‘Poison Within’, ‘Lust of Deception’ contain some of the album’s best moments. His multi-instrumentalist chops (adept in drums, guitar and trumpet) comes through in the album song after song with tight structures and arrangements that hold their own. There might not be an ‘Inspector Norse’ here, but you will find many crossover gems perfect for the radio or the basement party that will segue seamlessly between the new, cosmic disco of late yet containing a richness and depth that can only come with a knowing nod to historical precedents.

From his broad knowledge and passion for all things disco, Bottin has dissected, mirrored and reconstructed the genre while suggesting new parallels with others. Parody as it may be (or as he may think), Bottin may very soon find his own unique voice in the genre, for the talent is very clearly present.

01. Lies
02. Flow Of Persuasion
03. Poison Within feat. Steve Strange
04. One For All feat. Rodion
05. Lust For Deception
06. Plastic Forgery
07. Dirty Continuum
08. Spacetime Syndrome
09. Lies reprise feat. Lavinia Claws