Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today.
If these “chillout” round-ups represent the “pop” / more accessible end of ambient, well, then I`ll start this one with Galdre Visions – a four-way collaboration which combines classical chamber music, electronics and choral, choir-like song. Where treated voices and found-sounds are overlaid in harmonized drones, in compositions part sighing, serene, expanded Paisley Park interlude – Lovesexy lullabies – and part Suzanne Ciani`s Buchla love that hits in waves. Shimmering swirls of ethereal vapour, and all that pretty, novo new age caper. These sisters armed with transistors, harps, sitars, and angelic pipes. Their operatic arias accompanying flotation tank soaks, while nostalgic music-box melodies slowly unwind to the rush of fresh water, and the plucked strings flow in transcendental Laraaji-like runs. The sublime closing track, The Sun Will Rise Again, comes on like a cosmic hymn. A spiritual of optimism and hope, Sarah Vaughan and Alice Coltrane.
Mr. Foat turns up again in a cheeky, but super elegant, “mash-up” currently doing the digital rounds. Where The Secret Soul Society have him meeting Billie Eilish downtown. Taking Greg’s perfect, autumnal, pastoral, folk-picking and using it to send Billie falling, floating, into the fall. Having her whispered soprano, sighing Norah Jones-like, and Billie dreaming as she gently drifts downstream. I have to confess that I absolutely love this, and from what I’ve heard so does Greg.
Esther Edquist aka Sweet Whirl has her track, Sweetness, given a dub re-rub by fellow Antipodeans Andras, and Otologic`s Nick Murray – the latter here using a new alias, Rachow. Andras tethers the tune to a familiar break and throws ethereal Esther’s pop into Jamdown sound clash echo. Synthesizing a last of the summer sun score from decimated delayed drums and fractionated organ fills. Nick delivers a harder, digi take. His kick kinda electro – generating a jangling metallic rattle – and the bass, bashment. If you liked those Rheinzand remixes of Lou Hayter`s recent single, then definitely check this one out.
Quality vocals also abound on Common Saints` Idol Eyes. I’ve got Mancunian balearic guru Moonboots to thank for flagging this up, and for very kindly penning a guest review. The E.P. contains 5 tracks of superbly-produced, sun-stroked and heat-hazed modern blue-eyed soul, and as Moon quite rightly stated, there isn’t a duff song amongst them. Consequently, the temptation is to just let the record play, and “make love”, “get high”, or set a peaceful, unified vibe by mixing in and out. I’ve used 3 of the songs here, but I could have quite easily used them all.
Similar psychedelic rock / soul surfaces on a 7 by veteran Honolulu musician, Eddie Suzuki. Aloha Got Soul have lifted City Of Refuge from his 1973 long-player, High Tide, which they are poised to reissue in its entirety next year. Backed by his band, New Hawaii, the track`s laid back funk is set apart, made to shine, in this case not by the vocals or harmonies, but by the Santana-esque acid-fried axe work.
More indie-rock-edged is Statues` remix of James Bright`s The Level. Where acoustic dexterity and electric tremolo`d twang form the centre of a synthesized swoon built from sampled birdsong, rainfall, and romantic strings. Imagine a dubbed-out Doves or Midlake. Also featured on the 4-track digital release are another Bright original, Back Roads, and additional remixes by Vanity Project.
Leonidas & Hobbes dish-out the plugged-in, pizzicato, flamenco drama of their Morricone / Leone-esque cinematic long-haul mix of Web Of Intrigue, and contrastingly bring calm with the beatless version of their tanpura-tonking disco Jain Dharma, Aranath.
A Man Called Adam offer a further soundtrack homage – this time to Evangelos Papathanassiou aka Vangelis – with Tak Bat, from part one of their Love Forgotten: Oddities & Rarities treasure trove.
Also, keep your eyes open for Delay Tactics who have an LP, Imperfect Strangers, due before Christmas on Emotional Response. When pushed for a press quote I said…” A quality collection of cold-wave-edged kosmische and moving motorik miniatures. The Durutti Column-esque dexterity countering chiming kalimba and kora-like calm with Eno & Fripp-flavoured freakouts…and then there`s that final beautiful balearic bottleneck blues….” There`s a full review on the way.
The blues biscuit, though, is taken by Nina Walsh`s Woodleigh Research Facility. Where her Woodleigh Lament can only have been written with Nina’s former WRF partner, Andrew Weatherall, in mind. Its sad, slowly picked, tones sort of reprising the Sabres Of Paradise`s Smokeblech. Recasting the original’s “techno” as world-weary, machined electro-acoustic, country-soul. In much the same way as Andrew, and then studio spar, Keith Tenniswood, re-recorded the tune to mark the tragic premature passing of Back To Basics DJ, Alistair Cooke – and also sonically citing the Keith and Andrew`s pre-millennial missive, It’s Not the Worst I’ve Looked… Just the Most I’ve Ever Cared. Coming on like the hungover, morning-after, flip-side of Daniel Avery’s recent, celebratory, Lone Swordsman, it`s another essential tribute to the iconic DJ / producer, whose ranks have also just been bolstered by Bawrut`s AndreW, and Stray Harmonix` equally moving Mountain Of One. Stray Harmonix being the reunited, surviving Sabres, Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner.
From blues to jazz and there`s Ole Theill`s Transparent – a sublime suite of tabla devotional and chamber orchestration, on Music For Dreams, and Rob Mazurek`s Dimensional Stardust – on International Anthem / Nonesuch Records – which consolidates the multi-media art attack of Mazurek`s ever-evolving Exploding Star Orchestra. Todd Modes` Serpent – due on Going Good – also has its syncopated moments – such as Rain Rituals, where a soloing sax navigates a healing, hypnotic drum circle. I’ve also included Craig Kupka`s Electric Piano Vibraphone And Percussion, from Volume 2 of Music From Memory’s Music For Dance & Theatre.
Funkier jazz-fusions can be found on Quiroga`s Re:Passages E.P. Of the 4 reworks one of my favorites is Jazz N Palms` latin overhaul of Africa Addio – an uptempo, percussive piano samba, with an electronic upright b-line and damn impressive fuzz guitar and key solos. Riding a rhythm and tempo changes akin to those in DJ Harvey`s seminal remix of UFO`s Picaresque Eye, and climaxing in a timbale finale, it sounds a lot like something that would have been reviewed and recommended in a late `90s edition of Straight No Chaser. Another standout is My Friend Dario`s take on Chiaia Sunset – a hallucinogenic hybrid of looped muted bongos and backwards spinning sequences, chugging to a chunky beat. Raving slightly sedately with more of an “Ah Yes”, than a Hell Yeah! and containing a classy axe riff that could double for one of those Japanese maestros – say Masayoshi Takanaka – aurally painting an imagined Caribbean air.
Amico mio Dario also has a 6-track record of his own – Cosmic Sailing – in the shops, on NuNorthern Soul – the opening and closing pieces of which in particular are spot-on sunset / sunrise gear. Fenice`s electric techno counterpoint – of bumping bleeps, poignant piano, and rising string sighs – is both urgent and serene, while Storm is a thoughtful, sundown serenade, of aptly a tad darker weather. Surf and waves of treated twilight keys seduced by a slow electro pulse. Its clipped downtempo funk licked by a gently, rolling 303 tide.
Somewhere between the pseudo-samba of those Quiroga remixes and My Friend Dario`s beach-side electro-boogie is Tuccinelli`s Different Nature, a 3-track release on Modern Manners. A trio of tunes that are all decidedly bass heavy. The bottom-end`s bit-mapped bubbles warmly surrounding and dominating everything it encounters. The title cut features synthesized steel pan / string tones and kora-like cascades, while Moments slow-dances to percolating and popping drum machine patterns, amidst gated vocal samples and flashes of jazzy keys. Into The Clouds counters its titular refrain with chants, handclaps, and looped-up Spanish strum.
If you’re after some bonafide samba, or Brazilian beats, the best thing I bought in November was a Vampi Soul 7 dedicated to the music of Sebastião Tapajos and Pedro dos Santos. A repro of an impossible to find 1973 Argentinian single, on the a-side is Todo Es Moda – a heavy-breathing, tongue-twisting, uptempo, eccentric, Tom Ze-esque Tropicalia party-starter. Its sax honking and cuica going crazy. On the flip is Sorongaio – whose racing borrowed Bantu rhythms are accompanied by fluttering flute and acoustic guitar flourish.
In a similar vein, but from Columbia, is Elia Y Elizabeth`s Alegria / Soy Una Nube. Vampi Soul actually reissued this 45 as well, about 5 years ago, but both tracks have now been licensed by Brooklyn`s Razor N Tape and repackaged with remixes. To be honest I haven’t had a chance to listen to the updates yet, but I’ve a strong suspicion that they’ll appear in the next Looking For The Balearic Beat. Even without them, it`s worth investing for the OGs alone.
Personally, one of the bigger reissues of the last couple of months was Haruomi Hosono`s Medicine Compilation From The Quiet Lodge. I`d been after this for ages, solely for the electronic version of Honey Moon – something I heard Kennedy Magazine`s Chris Kontos play way, way back when. Released only in Japan, on CD, in 1993, the album`s been given a double-vinyl pressing by Great Tracks – a reissue arm of Sony Japan. I think this was – again – for the domestic market alone, and f-ing pricey, but there`s far more to it than the aforementioned exotica homage. From Laraaji`s electric zither contributions to the new age soundscapes of Ambient Meditation #3 and Laughter Meditation. From the balearic pop of Aiwoiwaiaou to Armenian Orientation`s epic, shamanic, jazz, drum workout, and Mabui Dance`s fusion of traditional music and song. The acid house / trance of Medicine Mix.
To sign the whole thing off this month, there`s a toast from LX72`s Passing Time – wishing you love.
Galdre Visions – Super Passiflora – Leaving Records
Sweet Whirl – Sweetness (Dub Mix by Andras) – Chapter
Common Saints – Letting go – Common Saints
Lady Blackbird – Collage
Lady Blackbird – Collage (Greg Foat Instrumental)
Secret Soul Society – Greg Meets Billie Downtown – White
Galdre Visions – The Sun Will Rise Again
Woodleigh Research Facility – Woodleigh Lament – Rotters Golf Club
James Bright – The Level (Statues Remix) – Eclectics
Delay Tactics – Woman In A Room (Of Colors) – Emotional Response
Common Saints – Idol Eyes – Common Saints
Eddie Suzuki – City Of Refuge – Aloha Got Soul
Common Saints – Secret Song – Common Saints
Craig Kupka – Electric Piano Vibraphone And Percussion – Music From Memory
A Man Called Adam – Tak Bat (The Vangelis Edit) – Other
Leonidas & Hobbes – Web Of Intrigue (Long Haul Mix) – Hobbes Music
Quiroga – Chiaia Sunset (My Friend Dario Remix) – Hell Yeah
My Friend Dario – Fenice – NuNorthern Soul
Ole Theill – Sunfoni – Music For Dreams
Pedro Dos Santos – Sorongaio – Vampi Soul
Todd Modes – Rain Rituals – Going Good
Tuccinelli – Different Nature – Modern Manners
Haruomi Hosono – Laughter Meditation – Great Tracks
Leonidas & Hobbes & Riad Abji – Aranath (Beatless) – Hobbes Music
Rob Mazurek – Autumn Pleiades – International Anthem
LX72 – Passing Time – Lexx Music
References…. Links to follow…..