One of the remarkable things about “I Feel Love” is that it still sounds futuristic now. Not because the effects and techniques it uses remain way ahead of what pop’s capable of, but because it helped fix the idea of what “the future” would sound like: its specific mix of voice and electronics evoking gleaming hedonism, endless clockwork pleasure. “I Feel Love”, like robots and spaceships on sci-fi magazine covers, represents a fixed future we can’t ever quite get past.
But at the same time “I Feel Love” is a thing very much of 1977 – its sounds and beats somehow antique, with the way its internal rhythms often seem to shift out of phase giving the track its mechanical feel. It’s the pop equivalent of Voyager (which launched within weeks of “I Feel Love”‘s release) – the furthest out we’ve ever gone, but powered by primitive late-70s kit.
Back on Earth “I Feel Love” has been refitted and retooled countless times – if not a remix then another track borrowing its pulsing bassline chassis. That’s testament to its success as a pop song as well as a machine age wonder: for all that Moroder’s innovative arrangement suits the tune’s spacey bliss and transforms Summer’s coo into something entranced, “I Feel Love” is still catchy enough to have worked as a much more trad disco or glam-pop record.
The arrangement is what shifts it from good to legendary, though, from the first interlock of bassline and synthesised pulsebeat. It’s Ptolemaic pop, the play of cycles and epicycles: Moroder setting up minutely intersecting circling rhythms and watching as they interact in a music of the spheres that hasn’t stopped turning yet.