[PROTO DANCE] In 1971, Bernhard Mikulski started ZYX Records, feeding an insatiable Western appetite for dance music. The German label clasped dance to rock using newfound electronic instrumentation. The masses gave up disco for New Wave, but ZYX homed in on a fusion of the two and called it Italo-disco. Forty-three years on, Portland duo Coronation has taken firm hold of this wonky, often-forgotten genre.
Not surprisingly, the group's debut, Rumor, feels European. Joshua Blanchard and Andy Brown embrace electronica but draw the line at sequencers. They embellish melodies and toy with pitches, but in real time, with real hardware. The record feels like the pilot episode of a '70s sitcom: a bit campy, homespun, filmed before a live studio audience.
Vocally, Coronation resides somewhere between Peter Cetera and Morrissey, offering quiet conviction that's at times garnished and dark. There's a Devo-like playfulness about the record's sound, especially in the mushy keyboard riffs of "Go for Gold" and "Shine a Light." But there's a chill too, reinforced through repetitive electronic refrains that stray from major chords.
Dealing in a back-road genre, Coronation could have gone corny. Whether it's the lack of excessive studio gadgets or the laid-back counterpunch thrown to New Wave, the duo carries certain attractive impurities. Thus, Coronation escapes the '80s-affected pack and its attendant clichés, instead shuffling toward Italo-disco's obscure lure.
SEE IT: Coronation plays the Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., with Dramady, Daniel Rafn and Strategy (DJ set), on Friday, March 14. 8 pm. $5. 21+.