Cosmo Vitelli

His I'm a Cliché label issues a new compilation.

BLURRY VISIONARY Vitelli pictures a genre-free clubbing landscape.

BLURRY VISIONARY Vitelli pictures a genre-free clubbing landscape. Photograph: Courtesy Rephlektor Inkorporated

Is Cosmo Vitelli perhaps the coolest name for a dance-music personality ever? Evoking images of mustache-sporting, fringe-cut disco icons such as Gino Soccio and Giorgio Moroder, it’s the nom de musique of the Parisian DJ, producer and label honcho Benjamin Boguet—and the fact that he took the name from a strip-club owner played by Ben Gazzara in the 1976 cult film The Killing of a Chinese Bookie only ups the coolness ante.

In truth, though, Boguet is neither a puffy-haired Italian producer nor a hard-as-nails sleaze merchant. But he is the head honcho of one of dance music’s rangiest labels, I’m a Clich, and he’s celebrating his baby’s fifth birthday by releasing a double-disc CD of past hits and unreleased material titled Moments of a Crisis, with tracks veering between skewed piano house (on Runaway’s “Putting in the Overtime”), gritty acid (Dirty 30’s “Disco Apocalypto”), soothing instrumental balladry (“Pour Nadia” by Etienne Jaumet) and something approaching country-disco (Electronicat’s “Purple and Green”). He’s also an edit maven of note—but rather than rearrange hard-charging disco tracks or ultraobscure Italodisco numbers, Boguet opts for pre-Nicks Fleetwood Mac or Bill Laswell’s experimental funk-jazz combo Material. “In terms of marketing or business, [that range] can be a problem sometimes,” Boguet admits. “But the whole reason I started the label was so I could have this freedom, and have a territory where I could try to do something different than others. And I don’t really feel like I have to be part of any scene; I don’t try to be part of nu-disco, for instance. I’m just generally obsessed with records and I listen to all kinds, so I find it normal to be involved with the full range. It’s not even of choice—it’s just the way I am.”

We decided to assess the dimensions of Boguet’s musical tastes by asking him to list five of his favorite tracks, a request he happily obliged, with the following warning: “I’m not sure if these are the most important records of my life,” he says, “and my top five would probably change with seasons. This list could be completely different next week. Why aren’t Stevie Wonder or the Velvet Underground in it, for instance? Still, these are records that, for different and subjective reasons, have been important to me.” Despite that caveat, we’d say he passed the test with flying colors.

Moments of a Crisis (I’m a Clich) is out now.

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