Neopolitan percussion practitioner, maestro Tony Esposito, should be no stranger to those moving in dance music circles. His `70s fusion forays produced “left field” classics that saw countless spins on both the London jazz dance scene, and the afro / cosmic cults / phenomena in his homeland. Check the awesome abstract funk of L’Eroe Di Plastica, and see if that doesn’t knock your socks off.
Jamming, recording, and touring with friends, and fellow travellers, Pino Daniele and Tullio “Stop Bajon” De Piscopo, during the `80s Toni followed in their footsteps a took a more pop path. My Tokyo tomodachi, Max Essa, championed, for example, As Tu As (a piece of Chris & Cosey-esque exotica) as a balearic beat. The pairing of Tony’s Pagaia & Je Na on a 12” was near mythical* – seen as often in the wild as a unicorn, until Archeo Recordings did a righteous reissue.
This was the beginning of Archeo`s on-going relationship with Mr. Esposito. 2018 saw the Mushrooms Project remix his 1974 debut, Rosso Napoletano. Turning the 20 minute-long sort of spiritual strut into a heavily stoned, electronic voodoo ritual, a psychedelic dub chug.
Now the archival imprint have enlisted the Perugia-based duo of Hear & Now – fresh from their fine Claremont 56 long-player, Milvus – to rework Tony’s biggest hit, 1984`s Kalimba De Luna. The original is defined by the sound of the “Tamborder” – a trio of electronic hand-drums designed by Tony, intended to merge the ancient and the modern. Peppered with flute, and synthesized panpipes, the OG tune skanks, politely, to a kinda Men At Work cod reggae. The two Hear & Now – total – transformations take the track in different, opposing, directions, but both render it pretty much unrecognizable. Their Onda Nuevo outing respectfully retains the `80s feels, but significantly cuts back on the cholesterol content, the cheese. Funky guitar flickers in and out of a marching machined b-line, while snatches of the song are spun into the mix – in spiralling, uplifting, rushes – where they’re joined by a joyful house anthem piano.
The Land Of Sunshine extension, is epic, and beatless, beginning with sparse percussion and seabirds. The temporally tampered with reverb-ed rhythms accompanied by prayer-like song, perfect for sunset, or sunrise. Soothing sore morning-after heads, aiding reality re-entry, with gentle guitar gyrations, overdubs, picked, plucked and strummed. Painting Paris, Texas, desert scenes with a cinematic, story-telling, tremolo`d twang.
Hear & Now`s remixes of Tony Esposito`s Kalimba De Luna were released on September 6th, care of Archeo Recordings.
*Balearic Mike was the first person I heard play Pagaia. He mixed it damn quick out of Boney M`s Boonoonoonoos. If you own the Boney M record then you’ll understand why he had to be sharpish. Hooked, I paid Mark Seven – at Jus`Wax – a pretty penny for a copy.