MAGIC MIX

Balearic . Yacht Rock . New Age . Downbeat

WEEK STARTING 21 Jun

Genre pick of the week Cover of Vidal Benjamin Presents Pop Sympathie by Various Artists.
Any historians keen on the subject of "French youth in the 1980s" are holding a treasure in their hands. As a true archaeologist of this decade dedicated to disposable culture, digger-in-chief Vidal Benjamin with his newest compilation, 'Pop Sympathie', offers them a unique journey in the heart of the cyclone of emotions that struck all teenagers during the first seven years of François Mitterrand's mandate. Fifteen musical nuggets, exhumed from the dungeons of history, each and every one of them teaching us about what really obsessed the youngsters at that exact moment, i.e. what happens when the city lights come on at dusk, when irrepressible urges that stir them to get lost even more appear until the end of the night.

The artists gathered here did not have the honour of breaking into the local charts, but they all individually reached for the sky. Each song of 'Pop Sympathie' tells more or less the same story: that of a girl who throws herself into the night like one immerses one's self into the void, who rushes into a one-night adventure to become a star. And too bad if in the early morning she finds herself back at square one. In all these miniature odysseys there is neon lights, lasers, smoke machines, broken glass on checkered tiles, strangers on leather benches, celebrities in the bathrooms, stolen kisses, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, Polaroids, venetian blinds and radioactive tubes.

If the first opus of Vidal Benjamin, 'Disco Sympathie', focused on the funky mood of songs that could have been played at Le Palace, then 'Pop Sympathie' develops itself as the imaginary soundtrack of another nightclub, Les Bains-Douches, the capital’s epicenter of nocturnal drifts. So what do we listen to, blasé, at Bains-Douches? Mainly synthesizers. The child of punk and post punk, French New Wave celebrates the matrimony of machines and lolitas under the auspices of a retro trend that revisits the atomic age. Trying to surf on that wave and hit the charts, a bunch of producers (Stéphane Berlow, Laurent Stopnicki, Bernard "Black Devil" Fèvre, Johny Rech, Jean-Yves Joanny ...) will spot their talents amongst friends, in a travel agency or at the local bar. These virtual stars are called Cecilia, Laurent, Sonia, Janou, Fabienne, Anne, Arielle or Ronan, not even 20 years old, and often leaving just an overexposed photo and their first name on a single as the only memories of their swift passage in this particular musical story. It took all the love and sweet madness of Vidal Benjamin to bring them back in the light of day.

Clovis Goux 

Lily Ann

Going Crazy

    Ciao ragazzi e ragazze! This is Piccadilly's resident Italophile, here to spice up your dancefloor life all over again. As Best Records continue to take us on an official tour of essential Italo reissues, the label raid the (now defunct) Eyes Records archive to treat us to a remastered rerun of the finest boogie bomb to come from Il Bel Paese. The work of signori Carugati and Greico, "Going Crazy" first flipped the dancefloor in 1984, turning the tide on the flow of cheesy BS with sheer bassline power, raw white funk and pure sex appeal. Silly, synthetic and partially robotised, this is club music for the sophisticated dancefloor. Alongside the vocal and instrumental of the original release is a brand new (old) dub, unearthed during tape transfer. Though it doesn't stray too far from the original mix, the brain shredding fx abuse may well make this the mix to pick! Gustare!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    12" Info: I COPY FOUND!

    While Chelsea may have bid farewell to Maurizio Sarri (who I personally think is a genius), the Belpaese crew come the opposite way, crossing the continent to land in store with the fifth edition of their Italian edit odyssey. As ever, the team dig deep into jazz fusion, disco, Mediterranean funk and rare groove to keep us moving and grooving until way after the prosecco's run out. 
    "Navigando" opens the set in low slung funk mode, locking in a deep bassline, big hands aloft vocal and stella synth vs guitar solo battle. Undeniably Balearic, and made for hot summer nights, this leads us perfectly to "Peripatetico" a smoothly grooving jazz funker with slick Santana guitar, totally coastal bassline and yacht friendly sophistication. 
    Flip it for the dramatic, climactic and probably cinematic "Maledetti", a disco funk workout with rock attitude, AOR energy and soundtrack strings. It's great from the start, but the vocal takes this jam up about 15 notches - very good. 
    Finally the pastoral, proggy and organic jazz fusion of "Sa Sa Sa" serves up a scat-led cool down for afternoon DJs and poolside pow wows.

    The Chi Factory

    The Kallikatsou Recordings

      Hanyo van Oosterom lived in the small cave of the Kallikatsou in the early eighties, finding inspiration there for the Chi project (1983-1986). From the nineties to 2006 he created drones, loops, samples and soundscapes, traveling numerous times annually back and forth to the Kallikatsou for fine-tuning. With the Original Recordings and Bamboo Recordings, both strongly connected to the Kallikatsou, creating the perfect timeframe, 'the circle [is] closed. Together these recordings reflect and express the different aspects of the experience. A trilogy of random dream-catching over 30 years.'

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Matt says: Fans of Chi Factory's "Original Recordings" and "Bamboo Recordings" can finally get some closure as the final record in the triptych lands this week. More unfathomably esoteric sounds from a true witch doctor.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd LP Info: ONE COPY FOUND!

      Coeo

      Tonic Edits Vol 6 (The Japan Reworks)

      Coeo have been travelling in Japan and discovered the magic of City Pop: That Japanese Disco movement of the eighties. Back then there were amazing dance tracks coming out of Japan. Some with Japanese lyrics others with American vocals. Often so perfectly played and recorded that it was hard to tell if the music came out of NYC basement studios or for real Asiatic studio musicians. Coeo found a lot of rare jams and did edits for their DJ sets. As at the Toy Tonics office everybody is always searching for the rare and unknown the crew was totally excited. And so the decision was made quickly: Put out a few of these rare jams & edits. Here they are.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: Coeo take us on a trip to Tokyo on this volume of Toy Tonics edits, serving up a quartet of J-boogie, city pop and Asiatic disco reworks, including a mega female vocal version of Sakamoto's superb "Tibetan Dance".

      International Feel are back, diving into the mirror world once again for a fresh four track on their Feel International offshoot. This time round the artist is Coombe Harbor, who, with virtually no online presence is possibly another alias of label boss Mark Barrott. Putting my presumptions aside and focussing on the music, I feel the warming vibrations of 'Kyoto Masks' washing over my pleasure centres. Taking one bubbling Fingers-esque bassline, syncopated hats and some gliding, Asiatic leadlines, this is house with depth, rather than deep house - lovely stuff. "Sadness Is A Drug Called Love" loses the kick drum and lays back into a gentle pool of electronic melancholy, achieving a kind of resigned serenity which could work in a warm up, warm down or sunset sesh. The electronic tranquility continues on the A1 with "Abadon Exit", a stately cinematic piece which filters the rich heartbreak of Vaughn Williams through Japanese electronics. Coombe Harbor brings the beat back for the final track, bending wild sine waves around a simple beatdown drum track and timing those piano chords just right.

      The River's Edge is a mythical place. A scene of tranquillity or the start point of a journey. Nothing stays the same. Life passes by. The river widens then retreats. The River's Edge doesn't exist...

      Nev Cottee is back with fourth solo album... 'After all these years it feels like I finally know what I'm doing. For some reason I had this image of the River's Edge in my head - a promised land where I wanted to be.'
      The album oozes with confidence as Nev takes his low barritone vocal into new areas and - dare we say it - even breaks into song!

      The dream-like Waitsian lullaby 'Nightingale' opens the record, perfectly setting the scene. Lee Hazlewood inpired doomed love duet 'Roses" follows featuring the mysterious Veronica - a Nicoesque chanteuse Nev discovered singing in the backstreets of Madrid. 'The minute I heard her voice I knew she was perfect. She has an ethereal quality. Not of this world'.

      The classic songwriting continues with lush soundscape production once again provided by the great Mason Neely (Wilco/Edwyn Collins). Long time friends contributing their unique skills include legendary guitarist Nick McCabe (The Verve), pedal steel virtuoso Chris Hillman (Ethan Johns/Billy Bragg) & James Walbourne (The Pretenders/The Rails) to name but a few. Cellos and violins combine with vintage synths to create Nev's now familiar sonic landscape. 'To have Nick contributing was a real honour.. The guy is THE guitarist of his generation. Not many musicians have their own unique sound but Nick does.'

      Inspired by the late Scott Walker, Neil Young and the aforementioned Waits, River's Edge is a unique sounding record blending beautifuly crafted songs with the cinema scope production values of Spiritualized and Morricone. It's a nod to the mythical Canyons of LA but through a very English lens. ' There is a pastoral quality to the songs on this album 'Local Hero', ' Hello Stranger' 'Scattered Leaves' they're all about the hidden places I love discovering in the English countryside.'

      Describing the recording process Nev explains, 'For this album we met up in Manchester for 2 weeks and got it all down. We just went at it workman-like from 9-5 every day. I love the whole process - writing, demoing at home, the studio. It's very gratifying to see an idea come to full fruition.'

      'I want to be unlike anything else out there at the moment. I don't see anyone doing what I do. I'm on my own. Good.'

      So where is The River's Edge...?! 'The songs are my way of working out what's going on in the world. Finding some sense in all the crazy madness. I hope people can come and join me in this special place and find some repose.' 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: Another beautiful record from Nev Cottee with proper classic songwriting and one of the richest voices in pop at the moment. This record features the incredible Nick McCabe of The Verve!

      The Gardener

      Views From My Shed EP

        After a run of club-ready 12”s, the fifth No Bad Days release slows the pace right down. On the "Views From My Shed EP", long-standing friend of NBD James Booth breaks in new alias The Gardener with an easy-going record inspired by nature and sure to inspire relaxed, repeat listens. A suite of biotic ambience and wonderfully bucolic atmospheres opens the EP, with "Lilac Moor"'s four parts fluttering on a garden breeze, gentle strings undulating against synthesized wind instruments and tranquil, serene musical scales. It's an absolute delight on the ear and totally transportative - you get instantly get the 'view from my shed' from where the title (and inspiration) for the EP comes from. On the flip, The Gardener gets a little more spring in his step, dishing out some fully synthetic soundbeds rich in meditative, calming frequencies and gentle, lapping grooves. There's even some elevating kraut arpeggio business to unravel the mind... Top stuff here, a fully realized EP beautifully executed. Recommended! 

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: Chilled out hazy garden vibes, full of pastoral charm and pseudo-balearic melodies. Percussive interludes break up the swooning synthplay before segueing into found-sounds and blissful scenic 'tron. Ace.

        The Montgolfier Brothers

        Seventeen Stars

          After a short label hiatus, Caroline True Records bring US a limited vinyl edition of a classic Salford / Manchester album. The Montgolfier Brothers, Mark Tranmer (GNAC) & Roger Quigley (At Swim Two Birds) initially released “Seventeen Stars” on the Salford-based Vespertine label in 1999.
          Much critical acclaim & appreciation from pop dynamo Alan McGee led to a 2000 rerelease on his nascent post-Creation Poptones imprint.

          “So we ended up pressing records as usual. Our first record was Seventeen Stars by the Montgolfier Brothers, a baroque, cinematic classic that almost no-one has ever heard.” Alan McGee (On Poptones in “Creation Stories: Riots, Raves & Running A Label” 2013 )

          Since that moment, “Seventeen Stars” has gathered universal plaudits & affection, along with occasional live performances from the group. To mark the 20th anniversary of the original release, CTR have remastered this brilliant work for vinyl. The sleeve expands the original Vespertine CD release artwork to LP size. Beautiful, memorable, fragile ... An album that proves the longevity of great songwriting, tunes and textures that stay with you. 
          For lovers of Felt, The Durutti Column, Jacques Brel, Blue Nile & François de Roubaix

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Laura says: One of the real hidden gems of Manchester music history, The Montgolfier Brothers' debut album, originally released on Vespertine Records back in 1999, gets a much needed reissue. Their intricate melodies, combined with a cinematic lushness, and heartfelt songs were never easy to pigeonhole and consequently, despite being championed and re-released by Alan McGee on his Poptones label in 2000, this album never received the acclaim it deserved.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Ltd LP Info: Fully Restored Vinyl Remaster & Restored Original CD Release Artwork For Vinyl With Memorabilia Assemblage Full Colour Inner-Sleeve

          Møzaika returns to Public Possession with another four track EP of varied dancefloor styles and musical moods. For the titular “Drive”, he collaborates with Australian Sui Zhen, who you may recognize from her previous work with Tornado Wallace, Andras Fox and No Zu. Together they produce a beautiful, mystic synth pop track, which sounds a little bit like The B52's soundtracking a John Hughes movie which only exists in Gwen Stefani's grade school daydreams. A dub version of that track completes the A-Side, splintering fragments of vocal over a beefier, DJ friendly variant of the title track. Over on the B-Side we find the mellow cowbell boogie / new age dance of “Crépuscule”, and the utterly ethereal “Never see You again”, which should be of particular interest to the Balearic DJs out there.

          Okinawa Delays Feat. Satoko Ishimine

          Nariyama Ayagu - Inc. Phil Mison Remixes

            Blink and I missed it! After the highly sort after and supremely limited first run disappeared over the horizon, OBI strip and all, Claremont 56 take pity on schmucks like you and I with a plain sleeve repress of this serene Balearic beauty. Though it may not be the looker it once was, you'll be reassured to know that this gem sounds just as good as ever. Label favourite, Cafe Del Mar hero and all round top talent Phil Mison takes controls on the A-side, rewarding one and all with a pair of pure, ambient bathers. Celestial synthwashes wax and wane beneath gentle acoustic guitar, occasional piano chords ripple through the infinite calm and the fx laden vocal sings sweetly to the siren, leaving us to drift peacefully into a new state of mind. In dub form, Phil omits the vocal and lets his tranquil instrumentation take centre stage, rivalling the superb "69" on Growing Bin for untampered beauty. Over on the flip, original Okinawa Delays cut "Vibration" steps a nimble path between Japanese jazz, mature funk and city pop to take a place at the top table with Eri Ohno, Ruriko Ohgami and Sadao Watanabe. The mix of shuffling percussion, diminished 7ths and rubber-necking bass should keep your body loose and limber, while Satoko Ishimine's smooth vocal soothes your soul to perfection. This won't be around for a long time, so buy a copy and stay cool all summer long. 

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Ltd 10" Info: ONE COPY FOUND!

            Freedom To Spend’s first catalog wide deep dive into an artist’s career focuses on four albums from Rimarimba, beginning with 1983’s "Below The Horizon", followed by 1984’s "On Dry Land", 1985’s "In The Woods", and finally, the once-imagined, now-realized assembly of 1988’s "Light Metabolism Number Prague".

            Somewhere out there around the turn of the 1980s, to the left of the post-punk crew, to the right of the minimalists, and surfacing with a friendlier face than the dour industrialists of the time – there existed, seemingly unbidden, an entire, networked, tape-trading community; a community that crossed continents and oceans, that relied on the postal service to do its bidding; a community full of humble visionaries and lost, misunderstood, or just plain ignored home steeped genius.

            Exploring that thicket of weirdness in the UK wild, you’d likely stumble across labels like Cordelia, Hamster, and Unlikely; compilations like the should-be-legendary Obscure Independent Classics series, or the Real Time cassettes; and inexplicable one-offs like The Deep Freeze Mice, Jody & The Creams, R. Stevie Moore, Leven Signs, Jung Analysts, and Rimarimba.

            Rimarimba was the project of Robert Cox, based in Felixstowe, on the seaside in Suffolk, UK. Rimarimba was not Cox’s first entry into the world of recorded music, but was the first time he explored, most perceptively, the parameters of a particular musical mode: one where minimalism is removed from its “highart” mantle, Cox inveigling its practices in amongst the do-it-yourself creativity of a burgeoning and beguiling underground, letting the music breathe – and most importantly, letting it play, gifting it with imagination.

            On Rimarimba’s 1985 album "In The Woods", Robert Cox has made his music kit, an odd assortment of new and old technologies, lately fixated on the digital delay, and programming technologies, sing his own song at its most articulate clip. The songs seem more developed, fluent, like mini-suites in some sense. By his third album, it’s clear Cox has recognised just how liberating technology can be – “All these intricate layers of things that I was trying to play, and didn’t have the musical ability to play, I could suddenly program them” – but he also recognises that if you head too far down that road, dull perfection is your bitter reward. Human music intoxicated and lurching through a new forest of machinery.

            Peter Westheimer

            Cool Change

              Not content with ruling the dancefloor via the oddball electro of Shahara Ja, those Antipodean reissue fiends at Left Ear are back in the house this week with a chilly retrospective of Oz Wave weirdo Peter Westheimer. An irreverent outsider right from the off, Westheimer spiced his unique brand of synth pop with Dadaist lyricism and Japanese tonalities, arriving at a future primitive sound which casually slipped between electronic, ambient, experimental and new age. When he dropped his debut LP, "Move" in 1985, Westheimer took the underground by surprise, blending his unique brand of synth work outs with a distinctly Australian aesthetic which coloured subsequent LPs "Sooner Than Laughter" (1986) and "Transition" (1992). This retrospective collects the finest moments of those LPs alongside 6 unreleased tracks, offering the casual listener a glimpse into the diverse genius of the NSW musician. Leftfield dancefloor cuts "Walking On The Edge" and "Elastic Smiles" groove their way into mutant disco territories, stumbling out the speakers like an ironic antipodean cousin of early 80s Peter Gabriel or Bill Nelson. "Rainforest" and "Circular Walkways" lay down some early markers for the casio tribal madness of Andras Fox or Young Marco while "Personality Change" is an afro-synth oddity worthy of a vintage Beppe Loda tape. Elsewhere Brenda Ray styled Balearic shufflers rub shoulders with Japanesque new age numbers, the whole set forming into a diverse selection all boasting a timbre which whispers Westheimer. 


              FORMAT INFORMATION

              LP Info: 1 COPY FOUND!

              In 2006, the musical landscape was very different; there was no streaming, “shazam" was a word used by magicians, and "all-access” was not granted to the general public. Social media, as we know it, was in its infancy and today’s constant digital feed of interruptions, notifications, refreshes and “likes” didn't yet exist. Those with a thirst for the overlooked regions of the record store had to quench themselves in the climes of the online world's music blogs, and while that digital community was surely expanding, NYC’s www.lovefingers.org was something different. Not a blog but a daily unfolding mix — no opinions, reviews, or backstories were coupled with the music, no full albums or submissions from the outside — it was a mysterious watering hole in the burgeoning digital desert where rogue tracks from Wally Badarou rubbed shoulders with those of Holger Czukay, the drama of Sylvester juxtaposed with the quirkiness of Hosono, and countless other coveted artists’ unearthed gems melted in one pot, a digital space where $1 thrift store scores could easily breathe the same dusty air as cosmic holy grails, oddball psychedelics and proto-electronica b-sides comfortably cohabited with $300 private-press folk rarities. With 1 track per day, Andrew “Lovefingers” Hogge created a truly democratic and educated selection of music for our aural pleasure, and labelled them ‘Fingertracks' (numbered 001-999).

              This was before most things we now take for granted were common on our dancefloors, radio shows or live streams. Those ubiquitous Euro Pop dubs, unclassics that aficionados play at the wrong speed, or private gems that have since been reissued to the moon and back? They very probably popped up on our collective radars via the medium of www.lovefingers.org first. Rightfully so, what started as a well-kept secret, became a go-to resource and mark of quality among enthusiasts, diggers, DJs, musicians and producers around the globe — the genre-bending mentality in turn re-coined the term “selector” — and inspired a generation the world over to delve further into record shelves, undoubtably contributing hugely to the wondrous, multi-faceted and open-minded musical language we now all speak fluently. While it remained niche, at its peak, www.lovefingers.org had upwards of 100K music freaks turning up daily, and ignited a global musical dialogue between people that were yet to be connected by today’s social technology. The site received countless letters of appreciation from rural kids with no access to record stores, acclaimed DJs, film directors, fashion houses, forgotten artists who were thrilled to feature among unexpected peers, soldiers who diligently tuned-in direct from their call of duty, even heroes of sample-scavenging culture like Coldcut who applauded, “…it just goes to show, when you think you’ve heard it all, you can always dig deeper.” The community around Lovefingers’ site was a call-to-action, gathering analogous minds and inviting them all to the same party, and on New Years Day 2010, after 999 Fingertracks and a plethora of (now classic) mixes, the site made a final post stating, “That's all folks!” The collective energy pivoted into the ESP Institute, a record label and art platform to champion new artists who emerged from this foundational community and as a catalyst to push the musical dialogue forward. Now, as the ESP Institute approaches its 10-year anniversary, we revisit the significant role www.lovefingers.org played in shaping where we are today.

              'Fingertracks Vol : 1' is a snapshot of aural delights that were on offer to those of the leftfield persuasion, all who discovered the site and tuned-in for their daily shot of sonics proper — a lovingly selected handful of records that re-introduce the story of Andrew’s most influential and essential music resource. The track list is classic Lovefingers, an insight into the free-flowing nature of the daily Fingertracks, context-free but connected through creative threads and energies — lo-fi loner jams brush up alongside sleazed-out Italo powerhouses, Greek new age obscurities tussle against overlooked Hawkwind-related cuts — nuggets that may be more known to the heads now, but whose initial excavation can be accredited to Lovefingers’ site, and are essential to its story nonetheless. Rumor has it that this is merely the first volume in a series, so as it turns out, and gladly so, “That’s not all folks!”

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Patrick says: As far as I'm concerned, Fingertracks was the most influential blog..and it didn't have a single bit of journalistic content - just an endless supply of outrageous tunes from all times and genres. Total rarities, DJ favourites and daily discoveries for every head on the planet. In the years since, each of the tracks on this FIRST VOLUME (YES!) has become an algorithm classic, but you've never had them all in one place, from the man who first helped us discover them. This isn't a collector's item or exercise in nostalgia, this is one of the best sonic selections you'll have the pleasure to own.

              Various Artists

              Five Years Of Loving Notes

                Over five years of vinyl endeavours, Antinote have gone from strength to strength, rising from the underground to become the first port of call for the forward thinking DJ. Menthol fresh, ever-interesting and way ahead of the curve, Antinote releases come and go quickly on the good ship Piccadilly, swiftly finding their ways into the most discerning record bags before soaring in price on Discogs. Comprised of 14 sketches - each reflecting one of the many shades of the label’s catalogue - "Five years of Loving Notes" places new names alongside those who've been involved with the label since it’s very beginning, like Geena or Iueke - responsible for the first 12” released on Antinote. Musically, the collection covers the broadest spectrum of mood and atmosphere, skulking from the dark and raw excursions of Tolouse Low Trax or Iueke to the lush instrumentals crafted by Nico Motte and Syracuse’s Antoine Kogut; Though disparate and diverse, the set seems to breathe as one; contrasting cuts all pointing in the same direction, seeking out the emotional response in all of us without relying on the trite cliches you might find elsewhere. Prepare to take a sensory trip, hurtling from the opening Latvian arabesques from Domenique Dumont to the Pink-Floyd-ian ending from Alek Lee, via Leonardo Martelli’s smoggy electro and Raphael Top Secret’s ominous talk-over. Long live Antinote.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xLP Info: ONE COPY FOUND!

                The Numero Group’s dive into the deep end of America’s private press continues. Having battled the witches and wizards of Darkscorch, the outlaws of Cosmic Americana, and traveled alongside Ladies From the Canyon and their Lonesome Heroes, it’s time to take it easy.

                With pop music’s volume knob adjusted for deflation in the early ‘70s, softness begat smoothness. Crewmen arrived from the worlds of jazz, folk, rock, and soul, all peddling a product that was sincere, leisurely, and lofty. A sound that was buoyant, crisp, defined. Sometimes classified as West Coast- and, later, Yacht Rock - the compass points of our Private Yacht expedition are the blue-eyed harmonies of Hall and Oates, the cocaine-dusted Fender Rhodes of Michael McDonald, and the combover strums of James Taylor. Here, at the glassy apex of rock’s softer side, 20 strong swimmers are gathered together. An album for both relaxation and reflection, where listeners can enjoy the present, a cool breeze, and a taste of the good life.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xColoured LP Info: Lavender coloured vinyl.


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