Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today.
Kicking off in Japan, Calm, AKA Fukagawa Kiyotaka`s new long player, By Your Side, will get a vinyl release on Hell Yeah! The “chillout” veteran and festival favourite producing a set of Pop instrumentals with an unfalteringly sunny outlook. Reminding me a tad of the music of my Karuizawa neighbour, Marter. Their apparent un-dent-able happiness igniting a small spark of jealousy in this cynical, old, soul. Even the track named, Mellow Mellow Sadness, sounds upbeat to me. A vamp on Kool & The Gang`s Summer Madness. There are Beach Boys harmonies and bell-like sonorities. Chimes and swells that pass for tide and breeze. Sometimes mixing electronics – acidic squiggles, undulating pulses – with AOR. Sending him “surfing at midnight”, with Californians like Sorcerer, Project Sandro, and the Dream Chimney Crew (I`ve also included Project Sandro here, with Mental Mother, a standout from their recent PST1 E.P.). The pieces are piano-led, but Kiyotaka-san only occasionally shows off the full extent of this Jazz chops. Synths blink and wink like lights guiding you home, and when Calm says “Space Is My Place”, I reckon its not outer or inner, but “wide-open” he`s referring to. Nature. Away and out of the city.
I`ll counter the sunbathing Calm, with Ikue Asazaki`s よいすら節, reissued by Studio Mule. A sublime piece of reflective, melancholy. In both its original and Kuniyuki-remixed forms. First released in 2014 by Volkuta, its a record that`s always got a lot of interest whenever I`ve played it. Asazaki`s is another of those voices that embodies something primal in all of us. Its emotion not defined by time or space.
Also free of temporal restraints is Colored Music`s Kitsune. A metallic, and cold, strange and seductive song from the Individual Beauty collection on Chee Shimizu`s Japanism. While it`s instantly recognisable as Art whose perfection could probably have only be en afforded within Japan`s shiny opulent `80s economic bubble, it will also, always, sound like a transmission from the future.
Sharing a similar sound palette to Coloured Music are AIRCHINA and Shelter.
The former, a solo project of Nikolai Szymanski, who can usually be found performing vocals and electronics with Dusseldorf`s Stabil Elite. On LP 1, for Italic, Japanese composers, Haroumi Hosono, Joe Hisaishi, and Jun Fukamachi, are the primary reference. There`s the odd track of rumbling Techno, or Synth Pop drums, but most of the pieces are pretty, Fairlight-lit, Asian-toned, Exotica. Sine wives strung out in a similar manner to Hosono`s most Ambient work. Keyboards mimicking kotos. Birds and machines singing in chorus, in Visible Cloaks` Zen garden. Circuits clicking like coded cicadas. Stately synthesised processions, where Writing could be an alien alloy take on Nuel`s Trance Mutation. Slow, sparse arrangements of echoed idiophone and harpsichord, plucked bass strings, and Twin Peaks torch song twang. Dubwise details.
Parisian Shelter`s Profondeur 4000, on Growing Bin Records, is an alternate re-scoring of Jean Faurez` 1960 documentary of the same name. The black and white short following geologists looking for oil out at sea. Hence the one-sheet`s subaquatic word play.
Its abstract electronica, a post-Exotica. Placing Pyrolator on Eden Ahbez` desert island. Glissando and whistles, and wonky, off-centre melodies, indeed, recalling pre-Technicolor celluloid. An Electronique Organique, of Cluster, Harmonia, and Roedelius, with theremin-thin synths, and spooky marimba. Music that could just as easily swap for Walter Schumann`s Expressionistic Night Of The Hunter themes. Soundtracking a dream-like trip down a midnight river.
Fellow Parisian, Orlando Diaz, using the moniker, Medline, presents an album of covers, Solstice, on his own label, My Bags. Having previously worked with imprints such as BBE, Electric Cowbell, and Names You Can Trust. Versioning soundtracks and sought after Library pieces by Arawak, Cortex, Brian Bennett, Alain Goraguer, Jay Richford and Gary Stevan. Live-sounding, flute-led, Jazz interpretations. Imagine Chip Wickham, and throw in would-be Axelrod breaks, funky organ grinds, heavy synths, strings, and Dorothy Ashby`s Afro-Harping.
Also paying homage to Library Music`s greats this month are Warren Hampshire and Greg Foat. Their Night Shade, on Athens Of The North, being a love-letter to `70s collectables. Right down to the artwork. The title track occupies the entire second side, and is a suite of nine variations. Which can be taken individually, or probably better, as a whole. The A-side consists of five separate compositions, that move between Matthew Halsall-like spiritual symphony, to tumbling and crashing syncopation, to sad, romantic serenades. Of swooning strings and smokey sax. The standout for me, though is the harmonica-charged, Mariposa Lily. Wistfully, and respectfully, tipping its hat to John Barry`s Cafe Del Mar classic, Midnight Cowboy.
No stranger to Cafe Del Mar classics, having spun no doubt all of them, and had a hand in a fair few of them, Phil Mison unveils a fresh Cantoma single. In its original mix Verbana is an “organic” sing / shout along of strummed guitars, strident piano, Roma violin, Rio harmonies, percussion – shaken and stirred, handclaps, flutes, Flamenco picking, and brass. Summoning the “take your brother by the hand” positivity of `89, the UK`s first Balearic flush / rush, of stuff like Electra`s Destiny.
When Phil takes a second shot at it, as Noche Espanola, he raises the tempo. Adding “Your Love” keys, saxophone, and a House b-line. Reverso 68 partner, Pete Herbert`s remix cuts up the guitar and twists that familiar Knuckles refrain like a phased rubberband. Immersing the track in jungle calls and whistles. Both now more the Euro-Dance of Paradhouse and Culturebeat.
All of them, for sure, will be getting airings at Love International this coming week, and at the last ever Balaericos, at Shoreditch`s Red Market, on Friday. When Phil will be joined by Moonboots.
Pablo Color`s La Calle Roja, on ISH, opens in a Cantoma-esque fashion. With acoustic six-strings, bongos, cuica, and shakers. But the sum of the LP is much more than that. Despite being centred largely on unadorned guitar, within its opening five missives it manages to pack in a variety of punches. Stylistically alluding to greats such as Japan`s DSK, Moonboot`s favourite, July Skies` Softest Kisses, Paqua`s The Visitor, Tommy Guerrero`s Loose Grooves & Bastard Blues. Parasol (2PM) sets Robin Guthrie “Shallow Bay” delay against the sampled sound of a beach. Surf, and families at play. The Spaghetti Western feel of Cavallo, of course, remembers the master, Morricone, but also nods to Neil Young`s improvised riffing for Jim Jarmusch`s Dead Man. The music of feted heroes riding out to a date with destiny.
The concluding two pieces widen the album`s scope still further. With Chee Shimizu`s remix turning the titular La Calle Roja into the next Yawn Yawn Yawn. A beautiful New Age-y float of bird song, cymbal shimmer, and drone. While Music From Memory man, and Ambient genius, Gigi Masin, collaborates on Waves. His trademark minimalism – of twilight synths- subtle, subliminal electronics – and isolated piano notes – creating a moment of hush. Under his influence, the guitar more concerned with atmospheres than Tirando techniques.
Music From Memory`s latest essential compilation, The Order Of Change, casts a magpie eye over the three albums recorded by Orquesta De Las Nubes. A predominantly live interaction between Suso Saiz, percussionist Pedro Estevan, and soprano, Maria Villa. Ethereally enchanting Madrid music halls between 1983 and 1987. Mixing Reich-ian counterpoint with classical percussion (anyone interested in the work of Midori Takada should take a listen). Tubular bells, and wind chimes. Processed flute, guitar, and piano. All accompanying wordless songs, lullabies, sung with an operatic range. Weightless arrangements where the overlap of voice and instruments makes it impossible to tell them apart. In places, particularly on the kalimba-filled Cama Dairmonica, they hit an ancient / modern groove. Pairing them with Finis Africae, or the more accessible moments of label mate, Roberto Musci. While on the closing Ella No Lleva Gafas, a drum machine backs a funky Prince-like axe and carnival vocal choruses. In my opinion, saving the best until last.
Colored Music – Kitsune – Japanism
Ikue Asazaki – よいすら節 (Kuniyuki Mix) – Studio Mule
Orquesta De Las Nubes – Me Paro Cuando Suena – Music From Memory
AIRCHINA – Clouds – Italic
Project Sandro – Mental Mother – PST1
Pablo Color – Waves – ISH
Hampshire And Foat – Mariposa Lily – Athens Of The North
Dub Tractor – Overheated Living Room – Music For Dreams
Shelter – Parade – Growing Bin
Medline – Liquid Sunshine – My Bags
Calm – My Home Town – Hell Yeah!
Cantoma – Verbana – Highwood Recordings