Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today.
This is the pop part. Expect something more “avant” imminently. Despite being “pop”, i.e. perhaps carrying something approaching a “catchy” hook, there`s touch of the techno in the tone of much of the music collected. Well, if not exactly techno, then harking after a “golden age” of introspective electronics, that someone in around 1993 / 94 labelled “IDM” – intelligent dance music – which was a pretty naf way of blanket-ly describing music that crossed over between club and home listening. It was also marketed as music for stoners. I`m not sure that being stoned ever made me more intelligent. Rather, it did often make going to the supermarket feel like an Everest expedition.
Balearic Gabba Sound System`s remix of Gallo`s Small Things – the highlight for me from the Bueno Onda comp on Hell Yeah! – for example, I’ve previously described as “ an analogue bubblebath of effervescent acid, sublime slo-mo TB-303 sequences”, and in doing so I also alluded to State Of Flux` recently reissued Mercury.
Originally released in 1994 on Finiflex, Mercury, produced by Glaswegian duo, Roger Elliot and Dave Clark, beats a Black Dog-esque path. The descending bass-line, deep sea diving, while the detail, like a rainbow coloured reef, is handled by trippy trance shapes. Now picked up by Podadisk, Mercury just happens to be one of the tracks featured on Andrew Weatherall`s seminal Massive Mellow Mix – which I guess many have re-discovered in the wake of his untimely demise. Mercury isn’t the only tune from the set to recently be reissued – also check that essential Primitive Painter double-LP on R&S, and Susumo Yokota`s stunning Ebi E.P.s on Transmigration. Yokota, another pioneer who is sorely missed. I don’t know if these reissues are pure coincidence, or if someone has a plan. If they do, then I`d quite like a clean copy of Sunshine’s Theme.
Very similar in shade to State Of Flux is a new E.P. from Ukrainians Bohdan and Leftie, AKA Asyncronous. 6 tracks, under the title Pangaea Nova, were released in July on Phonica`s Special Editions. Where percussive moments such as Blocks Of Despair and Padma Kirtanam play like out-takes from Nuel`s Trance Mutation. Fizzing with echoed Pole-like crackle and static, sitar, tambura-like buzz. Melodies revealing themselves, patient, unhurried. Mapping out a sparse, but vast inner space. Retracing ancient lost roads to a shuffling, ceremonial beat. The latter recalling Keith Le Blanc`s Cafe del Mar classic, Ending. Midnight Sun reinterprets the spiritual leanings and teachings of Laraaji and Carlos Nino, into powerful rising, roaring drones. The more urgent Shinkansen imitates the bullet train of its title, as metallic elements tumble, hurtle, while poignant piano notes pick out the landscape as it rushes by.
Coyote have an E.P. on Paper Wave – Stages Of Time – which also has at least one toe in this downtempo techno terrain. Looking For A Way In, in particular, takes the pair`s characteristic Jam Down / ON-U dub-influenced sound, and colours it with chiming, crystalline counterpoint. Elsewhere, the sampled chants, stolen vocal snippets, and -8`d Rastas are made to skank, shuffle and shake. Bump to balearic, slo-mo psychedelic nyahbinghi rituals. Spiked and dosed so that single drum hits explode into cracks of thunder. Resounding between bouts of strings, jazz piano, marimba, and bubbling 303.
Faroe Island-based producer Yggdrasil`s Dimun on NuNorthern Soul features remixes that take it into more machined territory. The original makes near classical use of acoustic piano and violin. The latter touched by the melancholy of the traveling people. A little Romany romance, surrounded by a faint shimmer of cymbals and gongs. From these elements, Mike Salta and Mortale construct a 12 minute epic. Of staggered chimes, and balearic bongos. Tabla fills, seabirds, and funky clavinet clusters. Ecstatic introspection rocked by the rhythm of the lapping tides and a contra bass-line. A suitable substitute soundtrack to the seminal A Short Film About Chilling – hazy halcyon but somehow more innocent days. Its drums breaking on a beach as if it were IBIZA 90 all over again. Chris Coco, though, turns in a far shorter treatment. Toying with the track`s parameters of sound. The piano now playing amongst phased buzzing drones. The piece back to beatless, with an added woodwind now carrying the tune`s themes of Norse tradition. Its midnight air recalling the darker moments on Jose Padilla`s first Cafe Del Mar compilation, those by artists such as Tabula Rasa.
Chris Seefried takes Lady Blackbird`s Beware The Stranger on an Ambient Excursion. In doing so channeling Irresistible Force`s landmark remix of Coldcut`s Autumn Leaves. The song, lifted from the forthcoming long-player, Black Acid Soul – just like Mixmaster Morris` masterpiece – is serrated into infinite, intricate, interlocking loops. Pensive piano and cinematic strings cutting through the sheen of spinning Mellotron and Casio synth fragments. The whispers and sighs of the lyrics` noir femme fatale warnings and cautions transported out of an after hours speakeasy and off to a beach. Trombone Shorty`s cool horn blowing a romantic Mark Isham-esqe blues under cloudless azure skies. Its legend made vapour, hanging timeless in the air.
Seahawks, likewise, do something similar with Okinawa Delays` cover of Just A Little Lovin` – the balearic band from the south of Japan tackling the Barry Mann / Cynthia Weil song made famous by Dusty Springfield`s Memphis sessions and subject to previous sublime renditions by the likes of Sarah Vaughn. Jon Tye and Pete Fowler have the synths swell and swirl. Make their circuits sing like birds. Hitting everything with heroic reverb. Stoned and sun-stroked, with vocalist, Satoko Ishimine, become an echoing angel. The pitter patter of percussion, a quick click of castanets, slowly replaced by a more syncopated battery and sax serenade. The remix` second half akin to something from Greg Foat`s latest amazing long-player. On the reverse, DJ Pippi and Willie Graff create a mid-tempo White Isle groove – soaked in hypnotic, subliminal sequences, and jazzed by electric keys and guitar.
Pippi and Willie`s sometimes label mate, Danish Spanish guitar maestro, Jacob Gurevitsch has a new single, Finus, on Music For Dreams. Low key and sophisticated the song showcases his skills – accompanied by a swooning orchestral arrangement. His playing getting clipped and jazzy as the song reaches its coda.
More fine fretboard work can be heard on Pablo Color`s fresh 45, Los Claveles 36, on Ish. Pablo overdubbing precise filigree and long, aching arcs, while his buddy, drummer / percussionist Berlin Lama, bashes out a sunshine samba. Pablo`s 6-strings dancing electric at the edges. Lexx checks in for the remix. Sifting through the overdubs and stripping the track back. Focusing on the main refrain, while running those arcs backwards. Putting the rhythm upfront and beefing up the b-line.
Not techno, but definitely key-based is Tommy Mandel`s Music For Insomniacs, on Invisible City Editions. Tommy – who has trademarked himself as an “NYC Synth Rocker” – has been playing sessions and shows, alongside countless pop legends, since the 70s. ICE collected his unreleased solo songs, on a set called Mellow Magic, back in 2018, and now they’ve remastered and committed to vinyl this 1984 privately-pressed cassette. As the title suggests, the 8 pieces contained are designed to aid sleep, and are named themselves after descending waves. Alpha is all beautiful, Reich-ain. A counterpoint of fluttering flutes. Beta, a simple Zen love story – accompanied by new age nuanced glass glockenspiel glissandos. Gamma, high, soaring, with tremolo, wah-wah, and a distorted lead. Delta, driven by darker electro drums. Epsilon is all sighs and chimes. The groovy Zeta pits playful poetry, hip jive, against what could be a clavinet. Eta bumps on bass modulations. Theta, in brackets “Butterfly”, a soft lullaby of sustain.
Slotting between the above you’ll also hear Denise Sherwood’s Portishead-esque Let Me In, Ruf Dug`s Episode 5-6, which manages to mix and morph movie memories of Giorgio Morroder and Tangerine Dream, with a pinch of Mr Fingers, and Smoke City’s 1997 LP, Flying Away – reissued by Music On Vinyl – which features Moonboots favourite, With You. A sweetly strung nova bossa nova that finds Nina Miranda falling in and out of love to the sound of acoustic strum and sitar buzz.
Okinawa Delays – Just A Little Loving (Seahawks Light & Love Mix) – Archipelago
Yggdrasil – Dimun (Mike Salta & Mortale Mix) – NuNorthern Soul
Asyncronous – Blocks Of Despair – Phonica
State Of Flux – Mercury – Podadisk
Smoke City – With You – Music On Vinyl
Jacob Gurevitsch – Finus – Music For Dreams
Ruf Dug – Episode 5-6 – Ruf Cutz
Coyote – Look For A Way In – Paper Wave
Gallo – Small Things (Balearic Gabba Sound System Mix) – Hell Yeah! Recordings
Tommy Mandel – Zeta (Kin Tama) – Invisible City Editions
Lady Blackbird – Beware The Stranger (Chris Seefried Ambient Excursion)
Denise Sherwood – Let Me In – ON U / Evergreen
Pablo Color – Los Claveles 36 (Lexx Remix) – Ish
Reference Links to follow…..