Chocolate Milk And Brandy / July 2021

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

Our last cocktail party was pretty much a Music For Dreams affair, and it looks like this month`s session is gonna be the same. I guess the Copenhagen-based label / institution  have got the more “pop” end of this sunset soundtrack niche nailed. 

Music For Dreams 2021

First there was a Record Store Day sampler, which is the only place you can currently find Reinhard Vanbergen`s The Dreamteam on vinyl. Reinhard being one of the founding members of Belgian band, Rheinzand. A classically trained jazz violinist, I’m guessing that he’s actually a bit of a multi-instrumentalist, because as a solo artist he’s quite prolific and his output is varied. This track is built around careful keys and a gently bubbling beatbox – it put me in mind of Suzanne Kraft’s Talk From Home. Featuring flashes of what might be mandolin, simple elements, and motifs, such as synthesized, faux, slap bass and vocoder-ed vocals, are added, with these waves and washes of countering detail becoming more frequent as the piece, peacefully, proceeds. 

Troels Hammer is on that RSD sampler too. Now I’ve got a lot of time for the music of Mr. Hammer. I consider it very, very, classy. Kinda modern chamber music, a little like a lovelorn Penguin Cafe Orchestra, that`s doing its own thing and “balearic” by accident, not by design. On Vendetta he manufactures a slightly mournful air from sparse electric piano, Satie-esque, funky, sleights of hand. Moving to the beat of a soft, sleepy bass drum it`s a score to a spent, somnambulant, shuffle home. Memories of yesterday’s revelry   present as faded handclaps. Where the next port of call is a hangover, or the hair of the dog. Head and heart aching, but old enough and wise enough to know it’ll be easier once you get some shut eye. Collaborator, Asger Steenholdt, who Discogs lists as a bassist, here switches to axe for a blinding, climatic, sympathetic blues solo. 

Vendetta also crops up on the label`s most current digital collection, Ibiza: The Sunset Sessions Volume 9, complied by MFD`s commander-in-chief, Kenneth Bager. There are 20 tracks in the package, all of which as far as I can tell are either brand new, or fresh reworks, and serve as a deft demonstration of the imprint`s ever-growing roster. One of the highlights, for me, comes from veterans Mikel Nordso and Ole Theill – simply because in my ears the pair can do no musical wrong. As part of fusion act, Bombay Hotel, they helped to define the classic Cafe del Mar sound, since their influential track, Between Leaves, was a firm favourite of Phil Mison. The duo together deliver virtuoso displays on acoustic guitar and tabla – in the case of Gravity & Beyond, these are set to contrabass and soothing synths – and carry a super cool, ECM-esque, folk meets jazz meets new age vibe. 

Another personal standout is Santino Surfers` Sun Rise Swell. The Surfers I’m assuming are relatively recent signings as I can find no info about them on-line. Chris Coco`s dub is a shot of spaced-out, slo-mo, funk, boasting a serious bass-line – reminiscent of Robbie Shakespeare`s “revolutionary” El Bamba – and stoned surf guitar stylings. Grooving with a touch of William de Vaughn’s Be Thankful For What You`ve Got, the echoed rimshots and congas recall Scientist subjecting Khruangbin to his legendary mixing desk skills. 

Chris, in addition, has something special scheduled for his own label, Disappear, in the shape of Son Life’s The First. The South East London-based producer`s soul / jazz single features friends Emma Barnaby on strings, Ed Bernez on percussion, and Sam Leach on keys, and is a teaser for a forthcoming nine-track LP. Starting with a subtle spiritual stirring of temple chimes and choir-like vocals, a soloing saxophone finds a breakbeat, while big acoustic piano chords provide the bottom end. The rolling river-like rhythm and muted gospel hollers – between church and Son House`s blues – had me thinking of Moonshadow-era DJ Harvey favourite, Sven Van Hees` What Do You See. The LP will be accompanied by Jack Marshall`s fine artwork. Believe me, this one leaps out of the stereo. 

Back on Music For Dreams, Willie Graff & Darren Eboli`s The Tribeca Tapes 4 traverses the golden hours from twilight to nightfall, in that while the instrumentation is light and sun-soaked, the significant collective kicks and b-lines will definitely be encouraging bods to down their aperitifs and venture out onto the dance-floor to boogie. The trumpeted and tabla-ed Visions Of Blue is the most sedate sortie on this four-track E.P. The remaining three tunes each owe something to Brazil. The South Americas are there in the playful pick and strum of Clear Sky. Cocktails With Cecil is a bumping, azure horned bossa, a slinky, finger-snapping, samba. The ethno-electro, uplifting chants and all, of After The Storm is like a drum circle gathering of Azimuth and Malian griots. 

As far as July’s sounds for supping sunset cocktails are concerned, there are of course numerous outstanding offerings from folks outside of Music For Dreams` extended family –  such as Chip Wickham`s dub of his own, The Cosmos, on Lovemonk, Reggae Disco Rockers cover of The Whistle Song on Flower, OK EG`s Intertidal Zone for Wax`o Paradiso Recordings, and Hear & Now`s magnum opus, Milvus, care of Claremont 56 – but the only release that Ban Ban Ton Ton hasn’t previously covered is D.K.`s Eighteen Movements, on Spanish imprint, Abstrakce. This ace album cherry-picks six live performances, recorded in and around the Parisian producer`s collaboration with Suzanne Kraft – D.K.S.K. – and his LP, The Goddess Is Dancing, for Good Morning Tapes. The collected work all features Reichian, gamelan-like percussion – gongs and tingsha, water-filled vessels, pots & pans, in the mode of Wolf Muller – sometimes serenaded by feather-light Fairlight-like treated vocals, and often accompanied by a gentle tribal thump. Echoes of exotic birds and “found” fauna paint pictures of an enchanted Amazonian forest, a bush of ghosts haunted by whispers, whistles, and a zither`s zing. Amidst the assembled organics, machines emit low frequency pulses and rumbles. Throughout the tempo is stately, and the mood, ceremonial. The closing Awakening is a near twelve minute improvisation, a fluid, fluttering float of harmoniously hammered iron and wood. 

Chip Wickham – The Cosmos (Chip`s Dub) – Lovemonk
OK EG – Precipitation – Wax`o Paradiso Recordings
Reinhard Vanbergen – The Dreamteam – Music For Dreams
Reggae Disco Rockers – The Whistle Song (Silent Dream Version) – Flower Records
Hear & Now – Bassa Marea – Claremont 56
Sonlife – The First – Disappear
DK – Echo Chamber – Abstrakce
Nordso & Theill – Gravity & Beyond – Music For Dreams
Santino Surfers – Sun Rise Swell (Chris Coco Dub) – Music For Dreams
Troels Hammer with Asger Steenholdt – Vendetta – Music For Dreams
Willie Graff & Darren Eboli – Clear Sky – Music For Dreams

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