Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.
Six deliciously detailed slices of intricate modernistic soul are packaged up as the super-sweet collaborative fruits of Arjuna Oakes and Serebii’s late night musical labours. Transmitting from Wellington, New Zealand, the pair have conjured up a hushed, intimate vibe that welcomes the kind of hazy early morning soul-gazing that most of us are prone to now and again. The pace is slow, unhurried and narcoleptic throughout: these are miniatures founded on warm bass tones and restrained beats: a whisper in the ear, a sidelong glance – intuition trumping certainty. The flute-flavoured Even When You’re Gone leads the way: mumbled regrets, heartache and a bumping b-line, the restraint still packing emotional punch – inviting the listener to wallow (dis)contentedly in its washed-out blues refrains and paths not taken.
Holding Cell kicks the E.P. off with a guest spot from Mo Etc: a low-down back and forth between star-crossed lovers, pinned by lazy breaks and city-slicker harmonies. Think Cinematic Orchestra goes neo-soul and you’re in the right area. Reset turns the lights down even further, retreating into boudoir territory, ushering the world away from the window, classic soulful guitar chops underpinning the kind of lolloping groove that rolls and rolls and rolls. A late-night classic in the making.
Satellites packs up horn lines and sustained pads into a treacly slow-jam sandwich: snail pace manouveres, with the confidence to park the lowrider at the kerb. This is confident, steady as she goes music-making: holding back to deliver more. No flashy pyrotechnics, just a yearning groove, machine-tooled for the soul lovers.
The title cut ends the record in slow and sombre mood, with the vagaries of love again acting as the foundation stone for meditative ruminations and regretful recollections. With everyone slowly coming to terms with a world turned pandemically upside down, the soothing balm of First Nights could be just the thing to provide a timely dose of aural solace.
Arjuna Oakes & Serebii`s First Nights is out now on California’s Innovative Leisure.