Chocolate Milk & Brandy / February 2021

Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today. 

I think this is a first. I don’t think I’ve ever put together any kind of release round-up that doesn’t include any old music, any reissues. The closest thing here is Italian ambient veterans Cabaret du Ciel, but The Breath Of Infinity on Quindi is actually the duo’s first new music in 27 years. Electro-acoustic ambassadors Luigi Morosin and Andrea Desidera going digital and tackling techno as a dream-like drift. 

Certainly not a reissue, but something that I missed last year, is Mike Salta & Mortale`s  Celestial Hike E.P. on NuNorthern Soul. My excuse is that I received the promo mid-December, just as Christmas preparations were picking up. I was a big fan already of their Cafe del Mar heyday referencing remix of Yggdrasil`s Dimun – so I knew it was deserving of a decent – even if delayed – listen – and it didn’t disappoint. The new 4-track release harbours at least 2 classy classics, and the softly strummed opening number, Behind The Rainbow – accompanied by bucolic, blue sky, birdsong and wistful whistling – is very appropriately dedicated to the maestro, Jose Padilla. Bells Of Burgibba`s combination of electric piano and Old Town church chimes recalls Music For Dreams` The Swan & The Lake, while the harmonica-led bossa of Henry`s Spacewalk might remind listeners of Cool Water`s lush Last Night – something I first heard during DJ Harvey`s magical Moonshadow sessions. Its romantic, hushed, twilight harmonies – synths blinking, somewhere off in the distance – are countered by the Cantoma-esque beach-side, Brazilian-flavoured, balearic boogie of Divided Illusions – a cover of Johnny Hates Jazz, featuring a damn fine fretless bass-line and fleet-fingered keyboard solo. The vocal reduced to vocoder vapour. 

Cantoma`s own A Night At Apres Midi – as remixed by Richard Adlam`s Dune People – blissfully building brilliantly – also needs a big mention here. 

I`m a sucker for harmonicas, and accordions, probably prompted by Jose`s championing of tracks such as Astor Piazzolla`s Regresso Al Amor, Seigen Ono`s Julia, and Gabriel Yared`s 37oC Le Matin score. For me it`s a sound synonymous with Jose`s early `90s stint at CDM. Steve Cobby adds to this particular canon with the moving Mise En Abyme, from his recent I’ve Loved You All My Life long-player. Another thing that fits perfectly here is the slow accordion waltz of Japan`s Mama!Milk, who recently released a rare 45, Your Voice. 

The “Chilled Mix” of Lloyd Dev`s Passing Runner, on Club Chi’ll Records, was one of the month`s surprises. On the flip of a decent house track – which features Jungle Wonz Harry Dennis – this is 10 and a half minutes of swirling, luvdup synths, Mediterranean sax, and Spanish guitar. Rolling along on a post-Soul II Soul breakbeat, and sounding like something from 1990. While it might be a tad cliched, it`s very well done and  it`s safe to say that they don’t really make `em like this any more. 

Not old, or reissued, but also most definitely retro is the dynamite Discodor on Wonderfulsound – who lovingly recreate a suite of laid-back library music-inspired grooves. The whole LP is fantastic – everyone will have a different favourite – and for me it`s To Drift Like Stars. Once that piano gets going I’m off, out there in orbit. Also from Wonderfulsound, keep an eye out for a special 7 from the label’s “supergroup” (including Lee Skelly from Discodor) – a collective called Sometime Songs. Their Shooting Stars and Borderline are a pair of beautifully arranged full band ballads – where vocalist Angelina to my ears at least tempers her free folk flight with a raw, Karen Dalton-esque edge. 

Discodor

Also keeping the library music vibe alive are Coma World on Byrd Out, with a set of cues, interludes, and dark cinematic themes. Pieces for bass, drums, and electronics that combine industrial crashes with Gialo scores, kosmische with math rock and strung-out stoner psyche. Slow dusty funk breaks mixing with Moog, and modal, spiritual jazz syncopation. Kinda Goblin meets Jaco Pastorious. Where fretless fusion runs, bulbous and Beefheart, chase through sinister sound washes, tautly twisted phased frequencies, sirens and mind-bending sine waves – creating a wonky psychedelic Mardi Gras gris gris voodoo. The drums, rumbling, rolling dynamic – a distressed, distorted, broken batucada. Fizzed and fuzzed circuitry twitching in glitched shivers and earthquake bottom-end boom. Some Sleep For The Weak is like Brightblack Morning Light jamming with The Overton Berry Ensemble. 

Taken from their Lambique E.P. – due in March on Apollo, Boozoo Bajou`s track Jadiz also leans towards the library. With ponderous beats caught in cavernous echo backing a sedated bossa nova strum, the tune borrows tropes from the “trip hop” text book. It`s 2 stoned to even nod its head. 36 hours without sleep. Wasted from the night B4. A tremolo guitar adding some David Lynch-ian drama. Auxerre is a similarly super stoned contrabass bossa – stuffed with SFX, and the odd hint of horn. Shimmer is piano jazz stretched and slowed to a crawl. Daytripper is marimba exotica. Martin Denny’s Quiet Village `round midnight. Nacht Platscher, however, harks after the Apollo of old. A wordless hymn of ringing, resonating, new age repeats, celestial harmonies, and warm rising swells, shuffling somnambulant, it wouldn’t be out of place on Music From Memory’s recent ambient techno comp, Virtual Dreams. 

Chris Coco and Luca Averna`s Sueño Mediterráneo, on Minimalsoul Recordings, is actually more of a homage to the history of house, than a chilled-out affair. The opening Mare might be a mellow sundown Spanish stroll but the album’s ten tracks travel tempos all the way up to tribal-techno-esque bangers and back again. Touching on memorable proto Italo moments, early Chicago relics, and `90s classics. Tunes that were no doubt staples during Chris` residency at Brighton`s Zap, The Coco Club. The distinctly danceable rhythms, topped with introspective melodies – deep with strings, sighs, sequences, and whistles – nostalgic echoes of rave. Garage divas, beatific bleeps, and the blissed out vibes of The Beloved’s Sun Rising. High Waves is built on a beat borrowed from Vaughan Mason’s Raze. 

Track-list
Cabaret Du Ciel – Great Plains – Quindi
Discodor – To Drift Like Stars – Wonderfulsound
The Person – Tigereye – Growing Bin
Boozoo Bajou – Nacht Platscher – Apollo
Coma World – Some Sleep For The Weak – Byrd Out
Mike Salta & Mortale – Behind The Rainbow (Ode To Jose) – NuNorthern Soul
Lloyd Dev – Passing Runner (Club Chill) – Club Chi`ll
Luca Averna & Chris Coco – Mare – Minimalsoul Recordings
Cabaret Du Ciel – The Breath Of Infinity – Quindi
Boozoo Bajou – Jadiz – Apollo
Cantoma – A Night At Apres Midi (Dune People Mix) – Highwood Recordings
Mike Salta & Mortale – Henrys Spacewalk – NuNorthern Soul
Mama Milk – Your Voice
Steve Cobby – Mise En Abyss – Déclassé 
Sometimes Songs – Shooting Stars – Wonderfulsound

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