I`m gonna start with the old stuff this time. To be honest, I’ve been working on something with Mark Seven and Chris Galloway, and I’ve just done the school run with a CD of “Top Tunes” from `89 at full volume. I had a bit of a moment to Third World`s Now That We’ve Found Love, and Coldcut`s People Hold On. I may have been a Ted, but I had my whole heart invested in this thing, I really did……
The Grid`s Floatation has got a repress, in the shape of Paul Woolford`s phenomenal Special Request rework. I think this was due to be a Record Store Day exclusive but it`s out now on Chemical Alley, with Richard Norris` edit of Paul’s 13 minute tribute on the flip. Originally released on the Offworld double-pack at the end of last year, Paul does an “Orb” on the IBIZA 90 anthem – reduces it to those opening piano chords, summer holiday surf and Shoomer Sacha Souter`s seductive whispers – the “Peter & The Wolf”-like melody now a shoe-gaze guitar echo – filling the space with broadcasts from Tranquility Base, Cape Canaveral and bottom-end blasts from the Marianas trench — making you wait an infinity for those drums to kick. Savoring its sweet, now forever sad, serenity. I actually played this – from the double-pack, naturally – during Lone Star`s set for the Chill Out Tent Around The World event – in tribute to Andrew Weatherall – whose genius touched the OG. Once again I found myself short of breath and welling up. Honestly, when the beat finally hit, I nearly broke into tears. Fortunately for everyone that bit hasn’t made the final cut.
In a similar vein as Paul’s rework of The Grid – i.e. epic rave ambient – is Higher Intelligence Agency’s Orange – taken from their reissued Colourform long-player, on Headphone. Produced by Robert Bird in 1993 for Beyond, the compositions mirror those of contemporaries on R&S off-shoot Apollo. An “IDM” that takes cues from Dr Paterson et al. – mixing stoned breakbeats and trance. Speedlearn for example is very cute in an Opus III It`s A Fine Day kind of way. While the understated Orange is a miasma of sonar signals, eternal echo, and acidic splashes of sound. The whispers of silicon spirits and stones being skimmed on the memory of a fondly remembered beach.
The other reissue is Fairuz Maarifti Feek, on We Want Sounds, which forgoes the electronics for something more jazz. The legendary Lebanese diva accompanied by the lush orchestral arrangements of her son, Ziad Rahbani. Strings, acoustic strum, keys, flutes, accordions, electric bass, and brass. Recorded in 83 / 84 and released in 87 this family affair tackles traditional ballads and cosmopolitan funk. None of it`s quite the “disco” of Rahbani`s famed Abu Ali, or his dad’s Liza….Liza, but there`s an abundance of Brazilian-flavored boogie. Rodrigo`s Concierto de Aranjuez gets adapted with appropriate flamenco flourish. Aloula (Version I) kinda reminded of Mushi & Lakansyel`s Haitian fusion tropics.
On the edit front, there`s another from that Jazz N Palms 6-tracker, and something from the similarly anonymous Belpaese – now on volume 7 – featuring 4 cuts of uptempo latin disco, mid-tempo Euro-boogie – whistle-blowing bossa, slow bumping batucada. My favourite though is the sax-y, sultry, Vado O Non Vado.
Not so much edits, or remixes, as new music inspired by archival sources is Secret Soul Society’s E.P. on Paper Wave. SSS being an extremely prolific new-ish venture from Neon Heights` Cal Gibson. There`s a quartet of tunes on offer, but I`ll pick just 2. Jeff & David loops reeds and rippling pianos while some sampled wise-head explains the way discotheques should work. The relationship between the DJ and the dancers, where it`s the dancers that define the dance. The more drum-driven Cantoma-esque Sunday Brown is a bongo-bashing heat-haze of keys in gliding glissando and muted vocal harmonies.
As for the new new music, there`s Gallo`s Small Things E.P. on Hell Yeah! Flensburg`s symphonic strings dance to a blissed-out heartbeat and compete with pre / post-rave bleeps. Vortex is a buzzing end-of-the-night arm-raiser built on phased organ sustain. A pitched-down piano anthem. Techno, yeah – but like Underworld`s Rez played at 33. The title track`s a gentle tide of lapping beats and fizzing fireworks – caught in slow motion and countered by bell-like chimes. Vendetta Suite take the latter and has them cascade over subliminal boom, a rattle of dubwise detail, and bending bottom-end drone. Remixed by the Balearic Gabba Soundsystem Small Things becomes robotic reggae, a synthesized skank. Ital acid for a twilight trip.
Andy Pye`s Balearic Social (wishing you a speedy recovery mate!) have a Qrates running for Expositions` Nights At Casa Ana. The lead number, Energia Mistica, is a sizable sunset suite that straddles a chunky Screamadelica beat. 14 minutes of wah-wah riff, whale noises, Mediterranean murmurs – whispers and promises. Sunshine and laughter. Delay-soaked and spaced-out, with a bongo breakdown that dissolves into birdsong then synth solos and spinning 6-string shapes. It`s a bit like a way way more lysergic Begin. Tomate Tu Tiempo grooves gently in an Antena-like synth-pop tropic – flecked with scratchy, funky, rhythm guitar. The slightly speedier, Spanish-strummed, Misterioso has Art Of Noise beat-boxing scatting between its 4 / 4. Electric blues licks lapping while timbales are tapping.
Higher Love Recordings have a fresh 3 track E.P. Ed Mahon`s Anymore is far from chilled. `80s freestyle percussion, a moody, slightly malevolent b-line grounding dark metallic drones, and a gothic vocal. Like Bauhaus do house, it`s the sort of thing I imagine Razormaid playing with. The other 2 tunes however are wholly “horizontal”. Mirage`s The Dream is again slightly moody – with Quiddity keys, slow thudding and crashing drums. Sampled TV / film dialogue steering a somnambulant course towards the light, and a finale of field-recorded surf. The standout for me is Project Sandro`s digidub Dire – which flloats filtered piano and soundclash SFX above a bass riff reminiscent of The Revolutionaries` seminal El Bamba (previously half-inched by both The Orb and St. Etienne).
Something interesting that got a digital release a little while back is Pierre Rousseau`s Musique Sans Paroles, on Beats In Space. The title track opens with police sirens then settles into Kraftwerk-esque beats and melodies. Uncluttered and seemingly simple. Like Tour De France, the peddling stopped and fallen in love. The Way You Made Me Feel is a chanson electronique – a symphony of squeezed drones set to a dance floor march. A romance of circuitry chatter. Pastorale`s synths are sucked backwards in an elegant, almost hymn-like fashion. The pace-ier Ivrsee tilts towards trance but is still pretty. Its percussion fills like tumbling mercury. Paris is cinematically strung, bass-banging electro, in contrast to the super slo-mo sunset / sunrise Souvenir – whose key refrain rises and falls in ringing crescendo. Fluid, and fancy, like an ornamental fountain.
There are further plugs too for the wonderful Woo, fantastic Fools, cracking Cantoma, stunning Steve Cobby, marvelous Maras, Posillipo, Proietti, and proper DJ Pippi and Willie Graff (who also have something new ready for Music For Dreams – more details to follow).
The Grid – Floatation (Special Request Remix) – Chemical Alley
Steve Cobby – Shatterproof Bionic Heart – Déclassé
Fools – Nnuunn – Music From Memory
Fairuz – Aloula -We Want Sounds
Jazz N Palms – Going East – Jazz N Palms
DJ Pippi & Willie Graff – Saxolicious – Leng
Project Sandro – Dire – Higher Love Recordings
Fools – Metaqua – Music From Memory
Gallo – Small Things – Hell Yeah
Expositions – Energia Mistica – Balearic Social
Higher Intelligence Agency – Orange – Headphone
Maras Posillipo Proietti – Sotto La Cascata (Remix) – Archeo Recordings
Pierre Rousseau – Souvenir – Beats In Space
Gallo – Small Things (Balearic Gabba Soundsystem Remix) – Hell Yeah
Cantoma – The Mountain – Highwood Recordings
Woo – Arc V – Quindi Records
Greg Foat – Island Life – Strut
Secret Soul Society – Sunday Brown – Paper Wave
Belpaese 7 – Vado o Non Vado – Belpaese