Chocolate Milk & Brandy / February 2023

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

a.s.o. / Rain Down / Low Lying Records

a.s.o. aka Lewie Day and Alia Seror-O’Neil, release a second single, Rain Down, on their label, Low Lying Records. Rattling away on a familiar breakbeat it retains the vibe of their debut. With subliminal scratching, the production’s a conscious nod to the `90s sound of Bristolian pioneers Massive Attack, and Smith & Mighty. The song’s protagonist proclaiming independence, in what appears to be a pretty complicated relationship, as synths add moody, mysterious Middle Eastern details. The main melody, however, soars, recalling post-Soul II Soul classics, such as Praise’s Cafe del Mar favourite No Easy Way Out, and All Saints’ William Orbit-produced Pure Shores. Recreating music of such sophistication is no mean feat. 

a.s.o. Rain Down

Azura / Azura Theme (Dream Version) / World Building

I used to think that I knew who Azura was, but now I’m not so sure. Their previous 12, Paraiso – which people went crazy for – was, according to the press sheet, an archival find from 1989, but the discovery of a follow up makes that legend / myth a little harder to swallow. Still shrouded in secrecy, nonetheless it’s a brilliant early `90s Italian “paradise” house homage. The A-side is banging, but it’s the mellower “Dream” mix that does it for me. Awash with bongos, congas, faux horns, and sexy Sueno Latino whispers, it’s trope-tastic, but very tastefully done. 

Theme From Azura

Mark Barrott / Johatsu / Anjunadeep

Mark Barrott Johatsu

I reviewed Mark Barrott’s Johatsu in depth when it was first issued, digitally, in June of last year. It’s a set that I’ve often come back to, understated in its subtlety and fragility, so I’m super pleased to announce that Anjunadeep have picked the album up for a vinyl pressing. While the music originally acted as the score for a feature-length documentary, focused on the Japanese phenomenon of “Johatsu”, the label have now also commissioned a series of stunning visual shots to accompany each track. Due in April, there’ll be an exclusive Bandcamp edition, which I think will contain a bonus 7. Can’t wait. 

Tolga Böyük & Kenneth Bager / East Of North / Music For Dreams

Sticking with soundtracks, Music For Dreams founder, Kenneth Bager, and Tolga Böyük – from the band, Islandman – team-up to compose music for an imaginary movie. The 10 tracks on East Of North were inspired by Tangerine Dream’s work on Michael Mann’s Thief and William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, and, incredibly, recorded in a single 24-hour session. The results are an introspective, reflective, nostalgia-inducing, and, in places, deeply moving mix of electronic and organic instrumentation. Crystalline circuitry – clusters of keys, caught, like breath, frozen in sub-zero air – and bowed cello heartbreak, as if describing an icy tundra, lost out in space. A saxophone solo shifts Blood Is Thicker Than Water into Eric Serra / Luc Besson territory. Here To Eternity stretches sine waves, symphonic drones, into a beautiful poignant requiem, complete with choir. Like any proper score, themes and melodies emerge and evolve throughout the record. Most of the motifs being mapped out in the album’s longest piece, Betrayal. Haunting hang-drum patterns form the core of my personal favourites. Echoing Cliff Martinez’s stunning set for Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris remake, and Hans Zimmer’s main marimba theme for Tony Scott’s True Romance (itself an homage to Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer, which just happens to be the music that I got married to – an ICA screening of Terrence Malick’s Badlands was our first date). 


Brown Fang X Torn Sail / Endless / NuNorthern Soul

In my opinion this 45 from Brown Fang, on NuNorthern Soul, is a must for folks who are into the music released on Paul Murphy’s Claremont 56. Here, the Nottingham-based duo of bassist, John Thompson, and guitarist, Henry Scott, join forces with singer / songwriter Huw Costin, aka Torn Sail. Huw having graced Paul’s imprint with the track, Birds, back around 10 years ago. Exit is a marriage of flickering frequencies and perfectly picked, and plucked, strings, that combine in an Ashra-like oasis of cool modern, pastoral kosmische. Endless is a drift of Eno & Fripp-esque infinite guitar arcs and wordless David Crosby “If I Could Only Remember My Name” harmonies. You can have a listen here. 


The Chill Out Tent Ambient Vol. 1 / DSSPR

Chris Coco launches an ambient project on his label, DSSPR – short for “disappear”. The first compilation is a more than “chilled out” cherry-picking of 10 artists, a few of whom are regular contributors to the imprint. If you’ve been following Chris for a while then names like Samantha Whates and Be.Lanuit will be familiar. All set in serene soundscapes of charming, calming chimes, each track adds something unique to the mix. Be it ethereal song, blue muted horns, or slow waltzing strings, or twisted accordion emerging from a melodic musical mist, heavenly harp glissando, graceful guitar microtones, or tumbling tabla. I think Koubakiki’s Raven Born even features bagpipes. The standouts for me come, first, from Sonlife, whose She Misses You fuses snippets of dialogue – that hint at separation – with pensive bass notes and piano chords. Its poignancy recalling Matthieu Beck’s recent heartfelt “hit”, California. Ataurean’s Hope Springs spirals out a swell of sampled surf, all flickering fragments, in a moment of melancholy urgency. Staring out past the sunset to an uncertain horizon, in a manner to (almost) match Mixmaster Morris’ classic remix of Coldcut’s Autumn Leaves.

The Chill Out Tent Ambient Vol. 1

Hunee / Melodies Record Club 003 / Melodies International

This E.P. came out quite a while ago, but since I’ve “rinsed” all 3 tracks, both on the radio and at live gigs, it’s only right that I give the record, label, Melodies International, and compiler, Hunee, a much deserved “shout”. Dorothy Ashby’s For Some We Loved is taken from the jazz harpist’s 1970 LP, The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby. The rubaiyat being a form of traditional Persian verse and the spiritual piece centred on a poem by Omar Khayyam, with Dorothy switching her usual strings for a Japanese koto, while her fellow players provide accompaniment on kalimba, violin, and oboe. 

Hunee Dorothy Ashby

Frantz Tuernal’s Koultans dates / hails from mid-80s Martinique. Totally tropical it stirs Spanish guitar in with mariachi brass and swings to a shuffling, well Balearic, beat. Rivalling stuff like Mario Rui Silva`s Kazum-Zum-Zum in the feel-good factor stakes. 

Hunee Frantz Tuernal

Digital Justice’s Theme From “It’s All Gone Pearshaped” originally appeared on Rob Gretton’s Rob’s Records, before being snapped up by Derrick May for Transmat sub-label Fragile. A beatless techno symphony, it consists of wave after wave of bubbling, boiling synths, tumbling toward the future. Effectively a 12 minute-long rush. Searing strings create counterpoint crescendos, and there’s the ghost of an old rave record in there, somewhere, deep down in the mix. Subjected to increasingly frenzied phasing, and spinning almost out of control, it has the feel of a storm, a hurricane, building, gathering, and places the listener right at the eye. Like Manuel Gottsching’s E2-E4 ripped on Ecstasy, and acid, it’s one big candy flip trip. 

As usual with these Melodies Record Club releases, the liner notes, consisting of interviews and personal reminiscences, are off the hook. Honestly if you can only afford to splash out on one slice of vinyl that I’ve recommended, this month, then, in terms of timeless music per penny, this, probably, should be it. 

Hunee Digital Justice

The Orb / Prism / Cooking Vinyl

The Orb Prism

In April The Orb will return with their 18th album, Prism, care of Cooking Vinyl. It’s an eclectic expedition that travels between techno, reggae, drum&bass, disco, and house. Coming up with hybrids and pissing off purists along the way. There’s a good chance that Ban Ban Ton Ton will, closer to release date, launch a full-scale review, but for now it’s suffice to say that the title track loops right back to The Orb’s origins. Repurposing a spoken word piece about troubled cold war chess champion Bobby Fisher they summon Vangelis’ neo-noir Sci-Fi Blade Runner score. Creating a glacial deep inner / outer space setting, akin toTangerine Dream’s Zeit, where icy arcs light out in the dark. Sprinkled with stardust blown in on solar winds. A sole, lonely trumpet sounding a defiant reveille.  


Simon Peter / Every Cloud / Forest Jams

Simon Peter Every Cloud

Some of you might know Simon Peter from his releases on Claremont 56 – Ark Of Lark – and Aficionado – where he contributed to the Balearic Mancunians’ Good Measure E.P. Simon also remixed Riccardo Giagni for Archeo Recordings in 2019. His new record, for Forest Jams, revolves around 2 originals, carefully constructed from summery strummed acoustic guitar. The plaintive picking synergising with sympathetic drum machines, keys, and a warm woodwind breeze. These are accompanied by a couple of cracking Japanese remixes. Coastlines seize Every Cloud and significantly beef-up both the beat and the bass-line. Adding steel pan tones, and a proper piano solo. Shu Suzuki’s radical rework of You Don’t Send Slow Waves Anymore, betrays his background in `80s fusion and city pop. Layered, complex, and rendered almost unrecognizable, the song now opens as a fluttering romance of friendly frequencies, an inviting AI amazon – which made me think of Kentaro Takizawa’s “Tokyo Balearic” bomb, Gradual Life – before finding a mid-tempo 4 / 4. Shu then seals the deal with some stratospheric virtuoso synth. It’s something that should, for sure, subliminally seduce sunset cocktail sippers onto a twilight dance-floor. 

Tonio Rubio / Bass In Action No 2 / Be With Records

Tonio Rubio Rhythms

Be With Records’ new collaboration with legendary French library music label, Tele Music, sees the bespoke vinyl reissue of Tonio Rubio’s 1973 LP, Rhythms. A Spaniard by birth, and an in-demand session musician, all through the `60s and `70s Tonio’s bass graced countless hits that topped France’s pop charts. An especially cool cache coming from his work with Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier. Album highlights are Bass In Action No.s 1 & 2.  Slow, sedated, but as funky as fuck, with electric keys wafting, coiling like Gauloises smoke. Perfect for contemplating at either the start or close of the day. I prefer the later, which has the added bonus of Tonio’s groovy growling.

Mixes will be uploaded to Mixcloud following their broadcast on FM Karuizawa this weekend…

Part 1

The Orb – Prism – Cooking Vinyl

East Of North – Here To Eternity – Music From Memory

Ataurean – Hope Springs – DSSPR

Dream Dolphin – Island Humming – Music From Memory

Calm & Jimi Tenor – Time & Space (Vendetta Suite Mix)

East Of North – The End – Music From Memory

Calm – Moon Bathing – Music Conception

Marine Eyes X IKSRE – San Francisquito Moonrise – Past Inside The Present

Brown Fang – Endless – NuNorthern Soul

Sonlife – She Misses You – DSSPR

Mark Barrott – Kyoto – Anjunadeep

Part 2

East Of North – Betrayal – Music For Dreams

Mass Density Human – Dances (With Anyone) – Higher Love Recordings

Marine Eyes X IKSRE – Forgiveness – Past Inside The Present

Dream Dolphin – Image Respect Love – Music From Memory

a.s.o. – Rain Down – Low Lying Records

Don Carlos – Aqua Part 1 – Sound Of Calypso

Tonio Rubio – Bass Action No 2 – Be With Records

Dorothy Ashby – For Some We Loved – Melodies International

Gianni Oddi – Dreamin – Four Flies

Frantz Tuernal – Koultans – Melodies International

Pilgrims Of The Mind – Sandcastle – Heels & Souls

Azura – Azura Theme (Dream Version) – World Building

Dream Dolphin – Daichi No Uta – Music From Memory

Simon Peters – You Don’t Send Slow Waves Anymore (Shu Suzuki Remix) – Forest Jams

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