Chocolate Milk & Brandy / May 2021

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

During May, cover versions might be the order of the day. Recently I seem to have bought, or been sent, a fair few reimaginings that re-frame familiar favourites. I guess in the case of a Chocolate Milk & Brandy sunset soundtrack, these put an often introspective twist on already nostalgia-inducing nuggets. I mean there were those East Coast Love Affair singles on Athens Of The North, but I also have a 12 from new Japanese label Grunge House Records. The 3 tracks on the Principa E.P. include the deep dubby minimal house of Ground`s Nigihayahi, Peter Power`s Americana raga, Golden Ripples – awash with field recorded fresh running water and looped vinyl crackle, like a needle forgotten in an old gramophone groove – but where Altz P`s boom-bap-ed re-rendering of Roy Ayres` “standard” Everyone Loves The Sunshine is the immediate standout. Fender Rhodes keys and syncopated snares, orbiting loosely with angular 6-string snippets. Teasing the tune out, mixing in birdsong, before bursting into the famous sing-along chorus. 

Hell Yeah will be marking Record Store Day next month with a limited blue-vinyl 7 containing two covers from Ravenna-based guitar duo Cacao. Both reworks are radical, to say the least. The French saccharine summer holiday pop tropics of Kaoma`s Lambada becomes a wall of shoegaze feedback, riding a ghostly guitar-generated rattle – think Nisennenmondai`s mad motorik. Delivered with Durutti Column dexterity and Space Echo`d into the infinite ether. This great, cathartic noise countering the OG`s camp Spanish melody. In Cacao’s hands Robert Miles` Children sounds like a giallo theme that’s disintegrating, pulled apart by gravity, as if transmitted across galaxies. Again, the pair`s playing has an electric flamenco edge, eventually spinning off in Manuel Gottsching-esque spirals. 

Cacao - Lambada

Melodica`s Chris Coco has remixed Nick & Samantha`s take of Chris Rea “classic” On The Beach. Chilled, chiming, charming, and filled with kids` laughter, it now sashays to a sedate samba – accompanied by slightly skanking keys. Lifting a line from the lyric, The Secrets Of Summer is a delicate dub, serenaded by John Barry strings.

Chris Coco himself has been remixed by Mike Salta & Marty Mortale – who take a track from Chris` Jamu long-player, The Soft Rain Falls, and extend it out over a twilight tide. “M & M” are a studio couple that I’ve got a lot of time for. I haven’t heard a thing of their`s that I didn’t like – a lot – that didn’t authentically pay tribute to the music found on Jose Padilla`s original Cafe del Mar comps. Here, warm, fuzzy Fender Rhodes-like filigree sets the tone, while the melody is shared by picked acoustic, and bottleneck electric, guitar. A Hohner melodica making a sound halfway between a Baghdad Cafe blues harp and Astor Piazzolla`s bandoneon.

Another stellar remix comes care of Japan’s Coastlines. After an 8 year hiatus the Tokyo-based jazz / r&b vocalist, Arvin Homa Aya, has a fresh album arranged for Flower Records. This being trailered by the single, Heaven`s Song, the b-side of which, Interlude, has been given the quality Coastlines` rub. Throwing a curveball, departing from their usual tried and tested “Azymuth visit The White Isle” vibe, instead Takumi Kaneko and Masanori Ikeda supply a slow, sucking, sub-bass vacuum – simultaneously turning subtle TB-303 tricks – as Aya-san`s harmonies holler angelic from within the resulting seductive sonic black hole. Handclaps dominating the beat, and fusion-flavoured keys finally brightening proceedings, it could easily be an out-take from Second Summer Of Love-era Soul II Soul. 

Arvin Homa Aya

Continuing with an indie / street soul swing, Wah Wah 45s have reissued a certified highly sought-after gem in the shape of Sam’s American Cars. The original 1991 version is a beautiful, acoustic, sort of bossa. Sam’s sweet vocal recalling that of D.C. Lee and the whole song – a paean to unity, friendship, positivity – piano solo and all, smacks more than a soupçon of The Style Council’s Cafe Bleu. Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris don their Africanz On Marz guise for a smooth, sophisticated polish. Adding big echoed handclaps and Darren`s cool keyboard runs. Occasionally springing surprise dubwise drops – just to keep dancers on their toes. On the flip you’ll find Life – which, amid sparse blue brass, offers words of reassurance to those feeling disappointed and let down. Adam Scrimshire creates new harmonies from vocal and horn loops, and gives the ballad an electronic overhaul. Employing ticking drum machine, bad, growling b-line, and sensitive synths, to further fashion a wonderful weapon against selfish folks` careless slights. 

P.S. This was a Moonboots tip a while back – I’ve been looking for somewhere to squeeze it in. 

Barcelona`s Apersonal have an eclectic E.P. good to go. To be honest, 3 of the 4 tracks on La Isla Blanca are really balearic beats, rather than beach-bound cocktail-sipping scores. Andres Vegas & Rai Gota contribute the boogie tempo-ed titular track – which is a sly deconstruction of a definite, definitive, `80s White Isle staple. At the end of tune there`s a near subliminal snatch of vocal – providing a clue as to where its rolling bongos and congas come from. On Electric Nova, Ron Barnea decorates with swooning, romantic, orchestration, as his percussion percolates. Trujillo`s Brothers Groove is lush, opulent, dub disco, boasting jazzy axe licks worthy of Mandy`s I Just Can’t Wait or Sun Palace`s Rude Movements (the Moodymann, Kenny Dope, Francois K, etc., remixes of which are coincidently finally on 12” vinyl and finally in shops). Jona Jefferies` Es Camp, however, is a serene symphony of swooshing synths and gently tumbling battery. Bolstered by a dynamite digidub bass-line, Smokebelch – LB Bad and Andrew Weatherall both no doubt being paid tribute to – seems to be playing somewhere in its distance, somewhere off on its blue-skied horizon. Also paying homage to Ibiza`s picturesque countryside and Jose`s legendary DJ sets, it`s punctuated by sounds that appear to be beamed in from Tranquility Base – suggestions, you know, of that kind of astronaut drawing a deep breath – lending the track the feel of The Grid`s Floatation . 

Below is a sunset segue, placing these tunes in some kind of sequence and context, alongside other previously reviewed pearls by Andres Y Xavi, Angophora, Cantoma, East Coast Love Affair, Max Essa, Expositions, and Private Agenda. 

Private Agenda – Sea Life (JQ`s Underwater Mix) – Lo Recordings
Chris Coco – The Soft Rain Falls (Mike Salta & Mortale Remix) – Chris Coco
Expositions – Energia Mistica (Seahawks Remix) – Balearic Social
Andres Y Xavi – Walking In The Sun (Xavi`s Pianoapella)
Sam – Life (Scrimshire Remix) – Wah Wah 45s
Cantoma – Back Into Daylight (Leo Mas & Fabrice Remix) – Highwood Recordings
East Coast Love Affair – Dub With The Rain – Athens Of The North
Nick & Samantha – On The Beach (Chris Coco Remix) – Chris Coco
Arvin Homa Aya – Interlude (Coastlines Remix) – Flower Records
Altz P – Everybody Loves The Sunshine – Grunge House Records
Jona Jefferies – Es Camp – Apersonal
East Coast Love Affair – Without You – Athens Of The North
Angophora – Starting – Music For Dreams
Max Essa – Hearts In Flood – Jansen Jardin

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