The collaborative rotating door of personalities that makes up Hercules and Love Affair has always been a broad church. Ringmaster Andy Butler says he has only one consideration when assembling a new line-up for a pristine phase of his epic musical journey through the dynamics of past, present and future night-life. “The key to the Hercules project is that I don’t want people coming to the table with nothing to say.”
The new Hercules cast is impeccable. John Grant was first into the fold and unearthed a new way for Andy to record. His sexy tomcat voice and lyrical ability for translating hardship into elegance lent themselves greatly to the new album and the collaboration ʻI Try To Talk To Youʼ is an album highlight, future single and uniquely Hercules. Another tremendous voice was found in the chameleon Rouge Mary, backstage at a Hercules show in Paris, looking “like a member of Fields of the Nephilim” in a floor length trenchcoat, wide-brimmed hat and heels. Rouge showcases a deep, fierce, spiritual voice found through a gospel education, with a look found through a degree in New Romanticism. Similarly Andy encountered Belgian singer Gustaph at a live gig. He has that perfect mezzo soprano voice that can handle a whole Sylvester vibe. On the first EP from the new album, Gustaph heralds the acid pop house masterpiece, ‘Do You Feel The Same?’. And rounding out the vocalists is the smoky-voiced virtuoso Krystle Warren. John Grant had introduced Andy to Krystle’s voice on a Youtube clip of her singing her own immortal heartbreak classic ‘Circles’. Tears ensued, with an inquiry as to who this crooner was. In Andy’s words, “Two months later Krystle was in Vienna and we were working together in what has been one of the most loaded musical relationships of my life.”
After finishing the last Hercules tour, in support of second album ‘Blue Songs’, Andy decamped to Vienna because “it was quite clear that this was a fundamentally European operation.” He found a tremendous old analogue studio in the city and began sketching his ideas down on tape. “I wanted ten minute tirades of 909s, nasty bass-lines, stormy, bleary-eyed sounds, fiery, rough, tough and ragged old school house productions that sounded almost techno. I didn’t want polite, I wanted aggressive.” Techno and Electro specialists and classic house devotees appeared through mutual friends in Vienna in the form of Haze Factory. They had already served up a great remix of Butler and Shaun J Wright’s “Forever More”. The rough collision of techno and house had already convinced Andy to take them on for the new Hercules album. Industrial stalwart Mark Pistel, also joined in on production duties, as a perfect compliment with a noise based, sample oriented take on swinging 909 drums.
This aesthetic coupled with substantial tales of emotional triumph makes for something that does not happen in dance music very much anymore. Put actual songwriting into the mix, and you have the goal of Hercules 3.0: meaningful house music that IS pop music and can speak to the most musically adept of tastes. More now than ever it is about delivering something deeper to the hedonistic precept of Hercules & Love Affair. “I am fascinated by belief,” Andy says, “Maybe the nightclub isn’t just decadent and meaningless.” His words resonate past memories of hearing the gospel house tones of Sounds of Blackness, Ten City and Mass Order under a mirror-ball. Andy lived and wowed through Francois Kevorkian and Danny Krivit’s pivotal Millennial Sunday night secular/spiritual nightclub transcendence, Body&Soul, in New York. Every house fanatic saves a special place for the gospel spiritual ‘Stand on the Word’ revitalized by Larry Levan. If they had done Greek Mythology already, why not God? So pay attention to the decree: let the party begin, once more with meaning!