In certain circles, news that James Mason found an unreleased stash of tracks he'd recorded in the 70s is akin to hearing someone just came across a couple of extra books of the bible. Previously Mason was known for recording a single album, 1978s revered disco funk classic Rhythm of Life. Now Rush Hour have got hold of an album's worth of unreleased material, and expectations are predictably skyhigh.
Fortunately - for the two tracks of this 12" anyway - the quality is just what you'd expect. A side, The Dance of Life is an up tempo disco roller, with percussion rolling around a vocal that layers over and over in a constant build. It's spacious, and ever so slightly other-worldly, and sounds like it would have easily slotted into a set from Larry Levan. The B Side is something else again, with Mason's vocal's vocodered over a beat that lollops along on a freakish time signature that jerks and swaggers. It's as innovative as dance music should always aim to be, and a far cry from the 4/4 hegemony that rules today.
Mason's comments on his surprise and pleasure at finding the tracks are pretty heartwarming and make the whole thing all the more appealing-
"Following a sense of disbelief that I could have ever forgotten about this music, for me the first echo was recollection, a flood of memories. I had poured all of the passion I could muster into this music. I labored tirelessly and thoroughly loved what I was doing. I thought I was creating my future and that this was my big chance. My idealism is evident in the lyrics. The first echo carried with it a recollection of the process of making this music. The nights in the studio. The learning curve. The equipment I borrowed. The effort and the passion. The exhilaration of a young man’s immersion in an act of self actualization is difficult to put into words. I was making the music that I loved and was engaged in an act of ‘proving myself to the world’. As it turned out, the affirmation I was seeking would only arrive as an echo — as recognition and acceptance of “Rhythm of Life” built gradually over the decades”
James Mason - Dance of Life is available on 12" from here