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…..