Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today.
Starting with a mantra moment, Praise (Pratah Smarami), is taken from the old love letter that is the expanded reissue of David Sylvian`s Dead Bees On A Cake. A universal hymn, in the manner of anuradha & kavita paudwal`s reading of the Hindu Gayatari Mantra (lovingly committed to vinyl a couple of years ago by Matt Sewell and Caroline True). Performed by Indian guru, Shree Maa, with Sylvian adding a sheen of guitar, that matches the atmospherics he provided on Hector Zazou`s First Evening.
Antoine Kogut, of Antinote`s Syracuse, goes solo, for an LP of Pop songs, for DJ Gilb’R`s Versatile. The press notes for Sphere Of Existence cite Soft Machine, Can, Toto Cutugno and Lucio Battisti. Pino Donnagio`s Body Double score, and the prophetic Science Fiction of Phillip K. Dick. The album`s title seems to reference both the cycle of life, and the planet we find ourselves standing on. The whole package – music, artwork, video, – plus hair, beard and Sandy Bull Saigon mirror-shades – hint at Sebastian Tellier-esque “auteurism”. The hushed spoken word delivery will have you thinking of Serge Gainsbourg and Max Berlin. Jane Birkin when in duet with Zoé BaillIeux. Dieter Meier, when Antoine switches to English. The music – subtle electronics, sleepy chimes, slapped bass, kalimba-like keys – recalls the Haroumi Hosono-produced Mikado. The synthesized arrangements and sublime brass orchestrations hark back to the sophisticated heights hit by Air.
Sparser synth-scapes come from Private Life II. The second long-player from Dam-Funk, under his Garrett alias, for Music From Memory. R&B tempod ambience, that dreams of the futuristic utopia promised by Transmat`s relics. Drawing on the Fusion produced by Japanese keyboard virtuosos such as Jun Fukamachi and Hiroshi Sato. Post-House drums gently percolating, as Mr. Funk paints Larry Heard-like sceneries. A slow seaside Samba, New Age swirls, and jazzy runs. Drifting clouds of sustain, and Wurlitzer tones. Bottom end growling throughout.
More minimal still is maestro Gigi Masin`s Kite. The title track from his recent digital album, now pressed on to 7” vinyl by Japanese imprint, Astrollage. A happy meditation of piano and chimes. Floating on that gentle acidic undertow, present in Gigi`s collaborations with Tempelhof. A voice off somewhere, far in the distance. If you think of the title, Kite, while listening, then you can imagine one being toyed with by the breeze. Amazed by its ability to remain ariel, against the odds. Fighting, resisting, continual struggles. Turning it this way and that way, this way and that way. Realising that without those struggles it would simply be a square of cloth, and never leave the ground.
Ex-Blow Monkey and WAG Club stop-out, Dr Robert sings about being as high as a kite on Lost In Rasa. One side of a AA-single, released as a primer for the Monks Road Social LP due on Wonderful Sound Libraries. The players include members of Galliano and Mother Earth, Mick Talbot from the Style Council, and Ben Trigg – who did the strings form Dexys Midnight Runners and Richard Ashcroft. It`s the strings that hook you. Big, lush, romantic. John Barry via Greg Foat. The whole thing, as lovingly retro as those first Micheal Kiwanuka 10”s (especially Tell Me A Tale). On the flip, is the Pat Dam Smyth-fronted, Good Bye Soho. Its sharp description of characters, and scene, got me thinking of Lola. The Doves doing The Kinks.
Dr Robert`s blue-eyed Soul Jazz put me in mind of those recent Jon Lucien reissues. Four tracks taken from a single 1973, 7” E.P. (a promo for Jon`s Rashida LP), now split over two 45s. More lush strings, and acoustic guitars, plus Caribbean harmonies, and sampled surf.
From Jon Lucien`s Virgin Islands to the Lesser Antilles, Martinique, and Marius Cultier`s The Way. I only picked this up recently, but checking on the `Cogs, it seems to have been reissued by Ascensionale last year. I apologise. Cultier mixed Jazz with Biguine, Gwo Ka, and Tumbélé. In the process he`s attributed with coining the term “Zouk”, and consequently birthing a genre. Cultier`s track of the same name is frankly bonkers. Screeching cats accompanying, frantic percussion, boogaloo piano, and Moog emissions, on a crazy no holds barred scatted / barked dancer. Nathalie, on the other hand is a gently crooned ballad, sung in French. The music, to my ears, though, has a touch of the Brazilian Bossa Novas.
Also borrowing from Brazil is another teaser from the forthcoming Copenema album on Music For Dreams. Mixing up Ipanema and Copenhagen. A Rio beach with Denmark`s COMA Club. This one, So Vejo Voce, is beat-less, save a shaker. A Cappella vocals, acoustic picking and synths that say “nightfall”. Plus a Stan Getz-esque sax.
Another set paying tribute to the music of Brazil, in particular that of Jorge Ben is Judith Ravitz` Bolerio = בוא לריו. The Israeli musician`s set of Hebrew covers selected from Ben`s catalogue, originally released in 1983, is next up on Be With Record`s reissue schedule. The uptempo Boiadeiro`s a Balearic Beat. Funky and Punky. Like Elli Medeiros dancing with Ramuntcho Matta. Energetic, percussive with a bongo break, Rock solo and clavs. There`s a version of Taj Mahal that`s nearly as Disco as Rod`s. A synth-y take on Zazuera. Cuica, brass, and acoustic strum. Sheila E timbale breaks, Nova Bossa Nova, and Samba. Dia De Indio drops Isabelle Antena into a sundown drum circle.
While I`m on Be With Records, Keith Mansfield & John Cameron`s Liquid Sunshine is a reminder about that massive package of eleven KPM LPs. A library of “blue on blue” chanson, Duanne Allman bottleneck, synthesized freakouts, atmospheric interludes, Acid Jazz organ-grinders, Prog Rock rituals, bar room piano rollers, sunset serenades, breakneck wah-wah licks, and noir West Side stories. This example lifted from 1973`s Voices In Harmony.
Switching from South America to the African continent, there`s also another reason to invest in that Nana Tuffour E.P. from Kalita Records and CC:DISCO. Jesus being one of the two downtempo numbers included on the release. Gospel driven by a sax motif that makes me wonder what Welton Felder`s Cafe Del Mar classic, Someday We`ll All Be Free would sound like if fronted by Salif Keita.
Africa Seven have Cameroonian Momo Joseph`s 1983 album, War For Ground, all set to go. The title track`s a brass-y, sax-y vamp on Lamont Dozier`s Going Back To My Roots.
Taking inspiration from a sabbatical in Gambia, and a period of study with Alice Coltrane, is Jeff Majors` For Us All (Yoka Boka). Invisible City Editions are about to reissue the Washington D.C.-based harpist`s 1986 debut, which makes a great companion to Beverly Glenn-Copleand`s Keyboard Fantasies – one of ICE`s previously rescued masterpieces. Both albums share a mix of analogue and organic music, and the same spiritual ideals. New Age-y. Laraaji-y. Like Dorothy Ashby with drum machines. Instruments from Jeff`s travels, mbira and spiritbox, join flute, violin ache, and waterfall-like harp glissando. Fingers working in Flamenco figures. Gospel vocals touching on those of Jvetta Steele. The blissed-out Funk, full of Travis Biggs` Tibetan Serenity. The Beatles` Let It Be gets covered, as does Gershwin`s Summertime. The latter echoing with “warehouse” space and reverb, and consequently reminding me of Colourbox` idiosyncratic mix of Pop and Soundsystem culture. Children`s laughter surrounds the record`s sentiments of “lend a helping hand to your fellow man”. Listening, I was remembering Gil Scott Heron`s memoir, The Last Holiday. His grandmother`s words that he took to heart.
“If you can help somebody, then why wouldn’t you?”
David Sylvian – Praise – Virgin / UMC
Antoine Kogut – Sphere Of Existence – Versatile
Garrett – Changes – Music From Memory
Nana Tuffour – Jesus – Kalita
Judith Ravitz – Dia De Indio – Be With Records
Momo Joseph – War For Ground – Africa Seven
Jon Lucien – Love Everlasting – RCA
Dr Robert – Lost In Rasa – Wonderful Sound Libraries
Copenema – So Vejo Voce – Music For Dreams
Marius Cultier – Nathalie – Magidisco
Gigi Masin – Kite – Astrollage
Voices In Harmony – Liquid Sunshine – Be With Records
Jeff Majors – Summertime – Invisible City Editions