Launching, Mystic Arts the new label from Belfast’s Chris Frieze promises great things if number 001 is anything to go by. Cinamin, catches the attention immediately because it plays in a distinctive class of its own joining dots between soul, melody and (virtually) an instrumental bliss. The production has got that heavy-duty, feel-good factor as captivating, rhythmic stabs undulate in seductive motion contrasted by more subtle synth lines adding haunting textures to the stereo field, meanwhile the loose shuffle of drums almost seem secondary but are very far from it. You could easily say, quietly anthemic, powerfully intentional. Then, Samba digs deeper into more soulful territory with a grainy eighties percussion loop driving rigorous bass and hot keys together along the course of another emotionally engaging arrangement of timeless sounds that prove to be just as excellent.
I was trying to think of something clever about Dino Lenny to entice you into reading the remainder of this review but as you will already know his music is exemplary in so many ways. You can never quite guess what you are going to hear but rest assured it will be a collection of exciting ideas colliding to push boundaries, shaking up boredom and clique out of complacency. Did This is proudly no exception. Sizzling with edgy Acidic undertones, fiery Jazzy piano alongside twisted rave era stabs talking up a riot, plus drums that ignite rhythm and movement as his own voice narrates the story. Listen for yourself.
If you are searching for music of distinction then Different Places Different Faces ticks the box. Featuring four tracks, each with their own distinct flavour, the fiery intricacy igniting the drums of The Spirit begins with additional combinations of deep bass, cutting stabs alongside an expanse of open spaces letting you breathe it all in. TJ Mornings features a warm glow of pads plus voices adding the human touch, while the hopeful LA Nights follows with a brisk intensity again highlighted by passionate drum programming, vocal edits and classic synthesized chords hinting at the past. To end the very excellent, Reach Out For Me sequences stripped back percussion together with thoughtful, electronic punctuation plus a tastefully jazz/ funk bassline capturing the essence of sundown as the cool accompanying chords dance around the horizon.
Imagine a world in which music was dull, uninspired or worse still corporate. Saytek elevates sound into another realm of awareness via this heavy fusion of pounding drums, atmospheric chords and a sense of purpose transfixing the listener while propelling meaning and defiance. Life enhancing as you feel better for having heard its heady rush of synthesizers blending melodic charge together with voices climbing skywards, pushing boundaries as much as celebrating what has come before.
I’m not quite sure how to best describe Does Spring Hide Its Joy and its considered length. Avoiding the word, journey it does however suggest transportation to other locations as sounds unfold, evolving in differing directions. Strange, how like a story, it draws you in when least expect it. You have the feeling that perhaps something else is happening beyond the winding paths of oscillating drones, guitar and cello as organic dissolves into otherworldly, then returns. I guess this is also about feeding your imagination with sonic suggestions, in which case it plays like a narration, albeit a haunting, illuminating one as feedback loops out into the ether. Spread across three discs totalling in the region of three hours requires commitment, involvement in the belief of what you are producing. There is a literal, can’t wait to hear what happens next, aspect to this as well as gluing you to your position, not wanting to leave and miss something. Remarkable in many ways this fluent conversation resembles speech without talking and comes down to the response to the nature of sound itself. Provoking, evoking, suggesting…beyond rationale.
A room within a room may be how you process sounds inside your head. It may reflect emotions and memories throughout a system of wiring and electrical currents. It might even exist in another unperceivable world. Four walls lies at an intersection between art and sound and its pure meaning beyond easy melody. Noise for noises sake. Sometimes unrelenting, brutal sometimes beautifully and loudly uplifting (try, dying embers). Existing as a collaborative project at the heart of it all is the clash of feelings engaged while reacting to what you are hearing. Not so much a journey through or into but movement itself generously peppered by highs and lows, light and darkness. I find it exhilarating and extraordinary. However, it may be completely meaningless to suggest anything else because you need to listen to this for yourself, to your own mind. Make of it what you will.
Like the clock ticking you know the instant that beautiful music occurs. Pedro Sanmartin’s breath-taking infusion of jazzy/ bluesy notation invigorates all five sense wonderfully as deep chords fuse together with a delicious ambience and punchy drums to strengthen expectations. Melting Pot is a stunning, refreshing piece of music. That emotional rollercoaster continues with the punchier bass strains of Dysania which receives two remixes in kind. Firstly from Death On The Balcony who employ a shuffle of drums and elevating strings to reinvigorate the elements, secondly from Tuba Twooz adding a more synthesized progression into the equation. Finally, Chanking completes the release via Detroit chords along with a probing series of urgency offset by punctuating percussion amid a gathering storm.
As playfully seductive as it is single-minded this irresistible meeting of minds fires up funky bass and brisk, intense drums like there is no tomorrow. Punctuated by a succession of vocal stabs and meandering piano this proves to be both ingenious and inventive in equal parts within Swing. Next, Roots probes into more invigorating rhythms via a definite sting and is likewise augmented by a series of voice snippets as the percussion hits hard alongside curious musical motifs making occasional appearances. Perfectly formed.
Thank god for Phantasy Sound. They release revolutionary records like this one. Always sounding like they’ve taken the ideas of the past, cut them up them into pieces, then creatively fitted them back together in more exciting ways. Perhaps that sentiment is a bit overloaded but then again listen to this first. The Phone Call is about throbbing basslines, shuffling drums plus a crazy attack of voices engaging, expanding your brain outwards and inwards. There’s even some piano. Sound Text XoX, then adds bounce to the ounce via further uncertainty alongside a heavy dose of upside-down Acidic thinking which again is incendiary, twisting the elements into new spaces of release.
I arrived at the music of Nebel lang quite by chance. Not so much via a roll of the dice, although I guess wondering around the internet could be justifiably called that, but simply by happy accident. On the odd occasion that circumstance happens, seemingly by chance, can be the most rewarding ones. Maybe it reminds me of flicking through vinyl in a record shop long ago where uncertain discoveries are excitably made.
What may prove to be one of my favourite listens at the end of last year also provides an introduction to this year and the loaded number 23. Listening to the fifteen minutes occupying the second title, nei cieli feels like the senses are engaging with the wonder of silence just as they are ignited by occasional rolls of eloquent piano punching through the air. Lonely and perfectly composed in the art of togetherness. Pondering time, browsing emotions. Much as the other numbers do. Apart from the introductory sounds of a train station as it bleeds into the remainder of pieces. It’s almost heard to capture the full intention here because it really is about personal conversation but maybe this is a long overdue start to the timetable.