Chocolate Milk & Brandy / December 2021

Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today….A little bit of last minute catching up, before getting busy with the end-of-year rounding up. 

Cantoma / By The Sea (H & N Remix) / Highwood Recordings

Cantoma Hear Now

Already smitten by the original’s accordion-led ace-ness, its romantic, lovers hand-in-hand by The Seine, Left Bank, Libertango swing, I love this remix of Cantoma`s To The Sea, by Italian duo, Hear & Now. When Phil Mison sent me file, upon a quick listen, I`ll admit that initially I was underwhelmed – thinking “Oh, they’ve just added a beat”. But Ricky and Marco have done much more than that. They respectfully keep the OG`s vibe, while completely altering the instrumentation. The easy-listening brass is significantly muted, while the pair now pull the piano to the fore – the main melody introduced, slowly, as a symphonic sigh, while adding electric blues and funk. Effectively leading, seducing, the tune away from its candle-lit cocktail and out onto the dance-floor, to throw the first shapes of the evening. That chugging beat by the way is expertly executed, and track totally comes off as authentic, with a musicality that will, I believe, in time, have it marked down as a classic. 

Chris Coco / CaliforniAmbient

Chris Coco - CaliforniAmbient

Chris Coco remixes one of the standouts from his recent album, Jamu. Constructed around samples and field recordings made during a trip to Bali, the original of California White Sage marries ethereal tribal vocals with harmonium-like drones and electric guitar microtones – squeezing in a Steve Hillage / Robert Fripp-esque new age-y solo before its close. The remix, Californiambient, focuses on the chant – upping the reverb, so that each overlaps the last, in a trippy folk round. Reducing the rest of the instrumentation to whispers in the ether. 

GCOM / E2​-​XO / K7!

GCOM - E2 XO

Following last year’s lavish Global Communications reissues, Tom Middleton now reboots the seminal “ambient” techno project as Galactic Communications, or GCOM. A truly epic undertaking, compiling a decade of work, the new album, E2 – XO, attempts to tie together Tom`s interests in astrophysics, cosmology, neuroscience, and especially exoplanet exploration, the search for a second Earth – the E2 of the set’s title – across 20 tracks, and 6 sides of vinyl. 

Musically, it actually reminded me a lot of a release by one of Tom, and then studio partner, Mark Pritchard`s other aliases, Reload, their landmark LP, A Collection Of Short Stories, in that amongst the beatless soundscapes, there`s also a fair amount of metallic rhythmic / arhythmic banging. Compositions rocked by complex, machine-gunned, meteor shower-like, non-repetitive drum programs and patterns. It`s the mellower moments, perhaps predictably, that caught my ear though. Midnight Shore is a calming oasis of obsidian bass drops, and synthetic arcs – illuminating the imaginary night sky like comet tails. The closing Beyond The Milky Way is simply symphonic, sonically somewhere between Max Richter and Brock Van Wey. Again boasting a large LFO rumble, and rising and falling new age swells worthy of pioneers such as Iasos, or Steven Halpern, within its apparent minimalism it crafts detailed crystalline landscapes in the listener`s mind`s eye. A score designed for deep space travel – a suitable alternate soundtrack to James Gray`s existential Ad Astra – the heartbeat like pulse at its core defines the track as much as any melody. The overall effect is edgy rather than serene. Its 14 minutes feel like a wrestle with a variety of emotions, an attempt to come to terms with the qualities required for a reach for the stars – a need to learn from our mistakes, to be caring, conscious, and sustainable – through nostalgia, anxiety, and fear, to find courage and peace. 

Jacob Gurevitsch & Alice Carreri  / La Ville / Music For Dreams

Jacob Gurevitsch - Yellow Spaceship

In a very similar vein to Cantoma`s new track, Jacob Gurevitsch`s La Ville, is more bandoneon business. Trailering an album, Yellow Spaceship, due in January 2022, it`s a bordello band ballad, that takes a gentle tango between Seigen Ono`s Julia and Astor Piazzolla`s Sur: Regreso Al Amor. Performed in collaboration with vocalist, Alice Carreri, its proper, old-fashioned Jose Padilla at Cafe del Mar gear. Jacob`s sublime Spanish 6-string storytelling skills helping to make it a worthy follow-up to previous super singles, Melancolia and Breathe. I can’t wait for the album. 

John Haycock / In A Bloopy Mood / Limefield Records

John Haycock : In A Bloopy Mood

Kora player and clarinetist, John Haycock, employs both of these instruments on his debut solo E.P., In A Bloopy Mood. The recording is the result of John receiving a Steve Reid Foundation award, and throughout he was ably assisted by two of the charity’s trustees, Nick “Emanative” Woodmansey and Sarathy Korwar. The 12-string African harp, which John travelled to Gambia to study, emits holy, healing, harmonies, the listener caught in its complex, but calming, cascades – the mediative motion momentarily setting tuned-in folks free from reality, allowing them to take a few deep breaths, think a little more clearly. This is a cool, cult, 45, whose electronic treatments, piercing in places, remind of Xian Hawkins aka Sybarite`s early work. 

Joanna Law / Calling All Angels (Early Edit) / Tangential

joanna law angels

Tangential Records unearth some treasure from Joanna Law in the form of an early edit of a track from her Rhythms Of Life long-player, released earlier this year, but originally recorded in 1994. With Joanna’s sibling, Simon aka The Funky Ginger, both producing and sharing the singing, it`s a moody, pop meditation, driven by hand drums and Soul II Soul-esque thumpin` soundsystem bass for a lovin` race. Stripped down, but featuring moments of plaintive piano and tropical steel pans, its a proper flashback to the days when stuff like Praise`s Easy Way Out and Julia Fordham`s Happy Ever After would get sunset plays from Jose. 

Rollover DJs / From Puglia To Jose / Rollover Milano

rollover DJs

From Puglia to Jose is the laidback highlight from varied 5-track E.P., Just A Little Bit In My Pocket, released by Italy`s Rollover DJs on their own imprint, Rollover Milano. While the other 4 tunes range from funky fruggers, to optimistic sing-along synth-pop, this one`s a heartfelt homage to Señor Padilla. Where keys emit flute-like frequencies, and plugged in patches mimic a juice harp, while a carefully picked guitar provides beautiful bent, pedal-steel-like notes. Kinda cosmic country & western, with added gentle percussion, and a perfect piece for quietly contemplating your place in the universe, or raising a glass with assembled amigos at the end of the day. 

SONLIFE & Abi Hardiman / Recollect / DSPPR

Sonlife Recollect

Recollect is the super ambitious sophomore single to be taken from South East London producer, Sonife`s album, forthcoming on Chris Coco`s new label, Disappear. Here Sonlife teams up with vocalist, Abi Hardiman. Both were previously members of the band, Haraket, who were signed to Chris` other imprint, Melodica, in the 2010s. The group also featured Jack Marshall – King Krule`s brother – who now does all of Sonlife`s artwork. The music, broadly speaking, is beatdown jazz – boasting brushed snares and poignant piano, contrabass in moody conversation with a cello. I`m pretty sure that I heard some kalimba in there, while its choral arrangement moves from gospel to operatic. Points of reference for me are biggies, like Portishead, Attica Blues` Tender, and Tricky`s Aftermath. Stuck out in the Japanese sticks, I`m not sure if this is picking up any mainstream radio play, but it deserves to. 

Turbotito & Mirror Tree / To Feel In Love (Projections Studio One Mix)

Turbotito to feel in love

Turbotito and Mirror Tree are Filip Nikolic and Michael Gold, both former members of Poolside – the “daytime disco” outfit that span out of San Francisco`s Blow Up parties – and a highly creative L.A. music scene, that sees connections and overlaps between bands such as Toro Y Moi, The Rapture, and Ima Robot. As Turbotito, Filip recently turned in a cracking remix of Woolfy`s Shooting Stars – which is one of my Balearic Beats of the year. Here, Woolfy, as part of Projections, returns the favour and reworks T & MT`s cover of Lucio Battisti`s classic, Amarsi un po’, which translates as To Feel In Love (a little). T&MT`s version is swooning, supremely romantic, sparkling, shining, finger-snapped, slow-mo disco. Projections come in with a more reggae-fied rub – hence its Studio One subtitle – a tropically transformed skank that sets the near falsetto vocal to fluttering keys and bubbling bass. Building to brass, and then dropping the track into dubwise. 

I’ve taken these tracks and put them into – hopefully – musical context, alongside selections from previously reviewed releases: Ambient Warrior, Bremer McCoy, Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18, Early Fern, Idee Du Femelle, Inoyamaland, Hot Mule`s Teddy Lasry retrospective, Sara Loreni, Music From Memory’s super spotlighting of MLO, Pablo Color, Kompakt`s Pop Ambient 2022 collection, Re:warm`s excellent HOME compilation, Santilli, Ayane Shino, UMAN, and You’ll Never Get To Heaven. 

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, have a great holiday, and stay safe!

Track-lists

Part 1.
Ayane Shino – Kodomotachi – Mental Groove
Santilli – Warm You Give – Growing Bin
Bremer McCoy – Maneskin – Luaka Bop
Turtle – Heatland Haze – Re:Warm
Pablo Color & Lexx – Aire Nocturno – Ish
Chris Coco – CaliforniAmbient – Chris Coco
Susumu Yokota – Amanogawa – Lo Recordings
You’ll Never Get To Heaven – Eye Soul And Hand – Seance Centre
Pablo Color & HOVE – LICHT – Re:Warm
Early Fern – Golden Moon – Metron
Inoyamaland – Billiard Tiger – ExT Recordings
Teddy Lasry – Raising Sun On Bali – Hot Mule
MLO – Wimbourne – Music From Memory
Idee Du Femelle – The Sea In Winter – Musica Maquina
GCOM – Midnight Shore – K7!
Ame – Doldrums – Re:Warm
Rollover DJs – From Puglia To Jose – Rollover Milano
Blank Gloss – Coiling – Kompakt
Susumu Yokota – Blue Sky And Yellow – P-Vine

Part 2.
UMAN – Atmosphere – Freedom To Spend
Natural Calamity  – Have You Seen The Sun Today – Re:Warm
Cantoma – To The Sea (H & N Remix) – Highwood Recordings
Ambient Warrior – The Dub Father – Isle Of Jura
Bobby Lee & Mia Doi Todd – Walking With Trees – Re:Warm
Sara Loreni – Neve A Maggio (Mushrooms Project + Leo Almunia Remix) – Archeo Recordings
SONLIFE & Abi Hardiman – Recollect – DSSPR
Jacob Gurevitsch & Alice Carreri – La Ville – Music For Dreams
Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 – Botafogo Blue – Legere
Brainchild – Beyond Because – Re:Warm
Joanna Law – Calling All Angels (Early Edit) – Tangential 
Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 – Y Ferch Ar Y Cei – Legere
UMAN – Entrelacs – Freedom To Spend

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