This excellent new EP from Afterlife does just what you would hope casting aside the expected, surprising your senses in a multitude of refreshing ways. Producing a lifetime of soul searching music is a quality in itself but when it comes in this calibre it’s something we can all join in celebrating. Fly opens the release via an illuminating flash revealing the promise of what this summer holds in store, feasting on emotions that are eloquent and elegant. Accompanied by a resolutely gentle pulse of electronic drums its swirling wash of instrumentation adds punch and clarity to the holiday of your imagination. Next is the tougher chug provided by the title track setting the tone racing as bigtime bass explodes across a wealth of fizzy synthesizers, then complimented by the emotional roller-coaster of The Bridge complete with its jazzy/ bluesy mind-altering brilliance. Lost Tribes completes the journey with liquid intensity bubbling, meandering across a whirlwind of probing keys that never leave you asking for more…
The bass throb igniting the opening bars of Resistance says more in seconds than a life time of evocative words. This feels like the point at which Afterlife has transformed their linage of ideas into defiantly something else. Perhaps that’s an abstract notion but you can hear the amalgamation of all thats gone before blossom into the art of Resistance. You can also experience that playing out in the loose shape of eastern influences drifting across the sea of punctuating percussion, likewise in the accompanying configuration of four/ floor drum hits, combining fundamental elements of dancefloor urgency with the uplift of soulful introspection. Two versions of Resistance are then perfectly realised by Sean Johnson (aka Hardway Bros aka one part ALFOS sonic pioneer) fusing the still provocative influence of Detroit’s Techno heritage to the expansive atmosphere’s imagined by Afterlife’s timely notation. Both provide the stimulation of an intoxicating retelling of the theme. Then more typically associated with Afterlie’s originator is second number Antifearance which adds a funkier, sunshine swing to its collective rhythms, breathing in the swell and shimmer of synthesized sound in all its glory. Nice line in garments too.
As summer draws to its natural conclusion Afterlife celebrates the occasion with this latest EP. The heady title track sees the warm expanse of the season stretched out over gentle pulses of drums, alongside jazzy reflections multiplying keys of all shapes and sizes. Next, FOU adds a Jamaican flavour to its rhythms offset this time by a twist of melted electrical impulse. To See You Again then sets the pulses racing as introspective improvisation gathers up a wealth of emotions, while the equally wonderful The Quiet (co-written by Tudor Moore who incidentally also composed the sublime Blu Bar with Steve Miller) follows suite. Producing smoky, bluesy after dark adventures the charge of horn blasts alongside the compelling whir of atmospheric synthesizers elevates the escapade to the full. Code Red completes the treasure trove with a more playful bounce again channelling thoughts of Caribbean sunshine into the mix, although of course all via Afterlife’s inevitable charm and care of detail.
Release: August 21
Talk about perfect timing. Just as the summer heat ignites thoughts of sunnier climbs Afterlife arrives with this latest instalment of refreshments. Into The Heat begins via sun soaked rays suggesting a cosmic refrain, with echoed voices pulsating alongside the rhythm of generous percussion and soaring, celebratory keys. The expansive sounds which fuel Wanderlust then perpetuate the notion that something good is about to happen with suggestive swirls of emotive synths, sprinkles of piano and a deliberately intense expectation. Jolly Up, completes the series of originals with a four on the floor chug of driving beats accompanied by chimes of joyful resolution destined to feel hot on the sound system.
Last but not least are DJ Rocca’s remixes of Si Si Si from last year’s Naif EP. Not surprisingly the tantalising Erodisco mix replays the influence of the 1980’s into fresh movement with vocal stabs alongside a neat line in bass. The tempting colours of his most impressive Dark Arts mix finishes as introspective layers synthesized sound create dangerous corners to lose yourself in.
At the core of the music created by Afterlife life exists somewhere between lost and found. Looking inward, forever reaching out. Capturing moments as if they were yours to live, a shared experience if you will. The title track, Naif can be located on a sunny upland offsetting its sunshine rhythms with brushes of grainy Dub, alongside a pulse of deep bass – translating Jamaica via Chicago. And that early House influence can also be witnessed on the proceeding, Si Si Si with its Knuckles styled bassline, slung low, amid a cascade of finely tuned snare-drums. As with all the numbers here it’s in the detail where you find the magic crafted, with thought process and imagination set free to live and breathe. The quietly epic, To The Beach is perhaps self-explanatory, yet as bliss unfolds there are hidden depths to be discovered in the breeze of Balearic charged warmth. Dune, completes via a sassy shuffle inspired by the world of rhythm (from Talking Heads to The Beatles) which sees the artist redefine a playful approach to life. Here, Now and After…
Once upon a time you might smoke something. Today, maybe you look up at the blue, sunshine sky to get your satisfaction. Either way this tranquil, yet probing set of music plugs neatly into the lineage of sublime, chilled music that you can all too easily apply the imaginary word Ibiza too. Red Moon sees a collaboration between Afterlife, Lenny Ibizarre and James Bright on three of the productions as the title track gets frisky with a series of punchy rhythms, while Earth Rise hits you with a rush string infused richness, high on atmosphere and life. The particuarily excellent Left Bank is the most up-tempo and energised number of the three, feeling suitably refreshed via the thump of four on the floor kick drums alongside a heady swirl of effects, vocals and melodic musicality. The System then sees a solo Afterlife expand reverberating sounds deep into the horizon as the pluck and twang of reggae influenced sounds sound magnificently invigorating all over again.
Music is about feeling. Right? The bottom line is where the depths of emotion reach out to. It may cause you to feel a, b, or c (maybe all three at once). Some music you listen to, you nod your head, and it passes by. Neither really here nor there. Functional cause and effect. Then there exists music like this. So, on that very note: Afterlife.
Steve Miller’s production guise will doubtless suggest certain things to certain people but what he has achieved with this new album is quite breath-taking. In certain part that is down to the sheer wealth of ideas which have been incorporated into this freshly imagined musical equation, defying, then defining expectation. There’s a sense of play here which doesn’t get tied down to any particular notion, or indeed feel tired after the longevity of creating music of quality for decades. There is also a sense of joy as the sounds play on. Take the second track, Back To Mine for example which contains the sort of beautifully executed chord sequence that sends shivers rushing all over the spine – the true indication of bliss. Or even the tougher dancefloor pulses sparking Berimbau to life, follow that by the deep string intensity that sees Celluloid resonate across the horizon. All of this is music exploring everything. Which then brings us right back to the title of the album – a statement in itself. But not before tasting the fragrant African flourishes of Kora, Kora, Kora and the broken rhythms of Shelter, via the Mashti remix of keynote Afterlife number: Speck of Gold, which again retells a story from the artists rich history of reference (another avenue to explore). Back to the beginning. Music is indeed all about reflecting what you feel about life, love and everything.
Release: June 7
Afterlife’s brand new album feels as much about breathing in life as it does about celebrating it. Opening up the possibilities is the self-aware (and rare) On The Inside (co-written/ performed by Coldcut’s Jonathan More and Matt Black) which plucks a sense of George Harrison from the ether as vocalist Holly Chand fuses the cosmic together with finely tuned production values. That feeling of the expanse unfolds with the proceeding The Way To San Jose as gently strummed guitars illuminate the horizon of Balearic futures. And much as before the music then traverses differing occasions and atmospheres via punchier drums on the funkier On Being – you register a theme now? – while taking a dip into the light via the more downbeat, though strangely uplifting, Disparu. The equally captivating Frankly My Dear also ploughs relaxed yet conversely invigorating sensibilities affording your mind a holiday of its own location, as the frankly wondrous cover of War’s timely The World Is A Ghetto ends with a rush of emotion which you will find throughout your being. Poignant electric piano engages with the sentiments alongside pulsating waves of drums and bass signifying the power of music and musicality all in one easy lesson. Let’s see what the Winter brings after….
Subatomic ‘s latest shot across the horizon sees multi-instrumentalist Micko Roche tease the airwaves with perfect harmonies and beyond. And what’s particularly wonderful here is the diverse nature of the sounds as the play fast and sometimes loose with identities and atmospheres. From the low-slung kick drums that drive the delicious opening title track forward to the liquid funk of the proceeding Slow Train the album proves to be much more than just the sum of its parts. Listening to this feels like a celebration of life, albeit without the darker moments, but by absorbing all of those gorgeously breathy vocals will prove to be as good a lesson in existence as any. Numbers like Coumshingaum then simply surpass themselves with the kind of excessively blissful guitars that wouldn’t be out of place on Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut album, and from me that’s a compliment. The wash of stereo eventually finds its logical conclusion with the suitably pulsating beats plus harmonious words of The Sea, though not before Afterlife performs magic upon both Baltimore and Slow Train on two bonus versions. Choice.
Yes, this is a bit special. All your favourite numbers crafted via the hands of Steve Miller’s timely Afterlife reworked, or reimagined, by a rather sparkling array of stars. Of course, I’ll avoid using the word blissful in the course of this conversation, most definitely sublime, although I will have to indulge in Balearic – just for old time’s sake. The Coyote remix of Es Palmador begins proceedings beautifully, followed neatly by FSQ’s good-time funky version How Does It Feel which sounds like a band playing right before your eyes – happy days. And so the lush vibes continue with various other standouts coming from Robot 89’s interpretation of Ozo, Steve Cobby’s sonically charged take on the charming guitar strains of Tonto, plus Chris Coco’s frankly epic Blue Bar which heightens the keyed in cinematic ambience to breaking point. And beyond.
Release: April 14
The original versions…..